Thursday 6 August 2020 1:57 pm

Edward Bramson resumes activist campaign against Barclays

Edward Bramson has renewed his activist campaign against Barclays’ investment bank, even after the division reported a surge in revenue this year.

Bramson reportedly told shareholders in his investment Sherborne Investors that the pandemic had “significantly distorted the first half results of all the banks”.

In April Bramson called a temporary truce in his battle with Barclays boss Jes Staley due to the pandemic. It withheld its vote for Staley’s reappointment at the bank’s shareholder meeting the following month.

But this week the activist investor has called again for Barclays to cut its trading division to boost profitability.

Barclays recorded a 106 per cent annual rise in fixed income trading in the first quarter and a 60 per cent rise in the second quarter. Trading in equities and fixed income has proved popular in recent months, as clients adjust their portfolios amid market volatility.

In a letter seen by the Financial Times, Bramson said: “In the real world, investors continually show that they just do not care very much about the trading business… If Barclays sincerely intends to prioritise shareholder value, this is something that, like [Deutsche] it will need to understand.”

Prior to the pandemic, the activist investor said chief executive Staley is “unsuitable to continue” due to his alleged relationship with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.

Sherborne said the regulator’s probe was “another example of governance weakness that has led, inevitably, to the recurrent public disappointments and embarrassments which have plagued Barclays.” 

In the letter this week, Bramson said Barclays should consider cutting assets in its corporate investment bank by 24 per cent. He also revealed that he had increased his stake in Barclays from 5.8 per cent to 5.9 per cent.

Barclays declined to comment.