Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Barclays Needs Staley Much More Than He Needs Barclays

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Barclays Needs Staley Much More Than He Needs Barclays

Article excerpt

Byline: Simon English

HOW much trouble is Jes Staley in? If we believe what we read, the Barclays chief is two-thirds of the way to defenestration. There are two strikes against him a nd a third would prove fatal, goes the narrative.

A short guide to his crimes: He spoke up on behalf of [1] a colleague he felt had been unfairly attacked by an anonymous whistleblower and [2] his brother-in-law. In the first instance, he went too far in trying to identify the whistleblower, a clear breach of the rules. This seems to have been a miscommunication rather than vindictiveness, but an error nonetheless. The second matter is so convoluted that it's difficult to tell what he is supposed to have done wrong, but it comes down to telling KKR that he didn't think his brother-in-law Jorge Nitzan was a fraudster.

KKR lost tons of money in a deal with Nitzan and is anxious to find someone to blame. Nitzan or Staley will do, but it looks like a stretch.

The third strike, the one that will supposedly do for him, could be anything. Criticising a refereeing decision in an under-12 football match and failing to disclose that a colleague's son was on the team? Buying a cup of coffee for the ||referee after the game without alerting his board first? Maybe there is much more to come out on Staley -- stuff which will demonstrate he can't lead a bank. If there is, we are now bound to find out, which has a reassuring feel to it, in a way.

Another way of looking at it on the basis of what we know so far is that Staley has been a little foolish, but much less so than many senior bankers of our age, including the previous five Barclays chief executives. In order, going backwards: Antony Jenkins: PPI mis-selling scandal.

Bob Diamond: Libor fixing. John Varley: SFO investigation into Qatar fundraising.

Matt Barrett: Said that he wouldn't use a Barclaycard because it was too expensive.

Martin Taylor: Lost PS325 million on Russian bonds, failed to merge with NatWest.

Barclays has been a basket case for years and is finally showing signs of becoming a sensible bank under Staley. Looking at the list of his predecessors, it seems fair to conclude that no one emerges from running Barclays untainted. …

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