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Barclays shareholders rebel over pay but reject Bramson

Barclays has staved off a challenge mounted by an activist investor at its annual meeting, but got a bloody nose from shareholders over its executive pay.

Almost 30% of votes were cast against the firm’s remuneration report, following calls for chief executive Jes Staley’s pay to be docked following the whistleblowing scandal.

In response to the vote, Barclays said: “We are disappointed in this outcome and will seek and reflect carefully on feedback from our shareholders in order to understand more fully the reasons for the opposition to this resolution.”

Meanwhile the overtures of Edward Bramson – whose investment vehicle Sherborne Investors owns a 5.5% stake in Barclays – were voted down by 87.2% of investors.

The activist had been trying to muscle his way on to the top table, while also calling on the lender to curtail its investment arm and increase returns for investors.

His campaign had gained little traction with investors, though he received backing of 12.8%.

Before the meeting, Mr Bramson conceded that he did not have enough support, and signalled that he will give the bank’s new chairman, Nigel Higgins, time to stamp his authority on the lender.

Sherborne will retain its stake in Barclays.

Advisory groups Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass Lewis had recommended investors vote down Mr Bramson’s election to the board, and Barclays bosses were also scathing of the attempt.

The beginning of the AGM was also hit by climate protesters, who interrupted Mr Staley’s speech, calling for Barclays to “tell the truth”.

Demonstrators linked arms and shouted: “What do we want? Climate justice. When do we want it? Now.”

It came a day after a group of Barclays investors wrote a letter urging the bank to stop funding companies involved in coal mining and oil sands exploitation.

The letter was penned by the likes of Hermes EOS, Edentree, Boston Common and Sarasin & Partners as part of a campaign organised by ShareAction.

The lender is also expected to come under fire over pay for top bosses amid a scandal that saw chief executive Jes Staley attempt to unmask a whistleblower.

ISS recommended shareholders vote against the bank’s remuneration report as the measures taken by the remuneration committee did not go far enough after regulatory investigations and a 15 million US dollar (£11.5 million) fine by US authorities over the matter.

Jes Staley investigation
Barclays chief Jes Staley was fined £642,430 by the Financial Conduct Authority over his attempt to unmask a whistleblower (Debra Hurford Brown/Barclays/PA).

Mr Staley was also personally fined £642,000 by UK watchdogs, while the bank clawed back £500,000 of previous bonuses following investigations into the affair.

The group reduced its overall bonus pool by £290 million to £1.6 billion for 2018 due to conduct charges, although it was higher than the £1.5 billion shared out among staff for 2017.

The bank’s annual report in February revealed that Mr Staley was still paid a total of £3.4 million for 2018, down from £3.9 million in 2017, while he received an annual bonus of £1.1 million for last year.

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