Barclays, PB* | FT Alphaville

Barclays, PB*


First, a tip for Bob Diamond’s successor as chief executive at Barclays: Don’t threaten the Bank of England. It will get you deported.

Bob’s gone, belatedly, and we can tell from the clunky wording of attributed quotes in the departure statement that this was a late night affair. Note the strangled prose of out-going/in-coming chairman Marcus Agius:

I look forward to working closely with the Chief Executives of our businesses and the other members of the executive Committee in leading Barclays world class businesses in serving our customers and clients and delivering value for our shareholders.

The resignation of Agius himself on Sunday looked fishy from the outset. He’d watched the Libor storm break and swirl last week and then suddenly decided at the weekend, after chatting with his wife, that the buck stopped with him and he had to go.

No it didn’t. He was/is the non-executive chairman. His job was/is to keep Barclays executives in line, while the executive management was/is charged with managing the actual business. Any buck stopping had to happen on the Bob Diamond side of the Barclays board.

And now it has.

Without doubt, this was the trigger:

Bob Diamond is threatening to reveal potentially embarrassing details about Barclays’ dealings with regulators if he comes under fire at a parliamentary hearing on Wednesday over the Libor rate-setting scandal, according to people close to the bank’s chief executive.

“If he is attacked, he will fight back,” said one person familiar with preparations for the Treasury select committee hearing. Such a confrontational tactic could aggravate the fraught relations between the bank and the authorities after Barclays paid £290m to settle an investigation by UK and US regulators over the bank’s involvement in manipulating key interbank lending rates.

There were already overt threats to drag Paul Tucker, a leading contender to take over from Sir Mervyn King as BoE governor, in to the mire by suggesting that his unit somehow condoned fantasy Libor quotations.

But that’s not the point. You just don’t threaten the Bank. The City of London is not some sort of financial democracy. It is a hierarchy. It is not Capitol Hill; political brawling is prohibited.

Bob Diamond might have come to learn that in his 16 years at Barclays. But apparently not.

Related links:
No flowers – FT Alphaville
Smells like Bob contrition – FT Alphaville