Barclays Boss Drops Bonus To 'Avoid Debate'

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The new chief executive of Barclays (LSE: BARC.L - news) is to waive his annual bonus amid continuing pressure on the bank over its involvement in a series of scandals.

Antony Jenkins, who took over from Bob Diamond in August, said he had decided this week not to take a bonus for 2012, about which leading shareholders had been canvassed by the man in charge of setting boardroom pay at the bank.

Mr Jenkins informed the board of his decision on Tuesday, hours after Sky News had revealed the talks between Sir John Sunderland, Barclays' remuneration committee chairman, and the bank's biggest institutional investors.

In a statement issued on Friday morning, Mr Jenkins said: "I am aware of considerable speculation about, and public interest in, the question of whether I will be awarded a bonus in respect of my performance in 2012.

"To avoid further unnecessary public debate on this matter, I wish to make clear that I concluded early this week that I do not wish to be considered for a bonus award for 2012 and I have communicated that decision to the Board.

"The year just past was clearly a very difficult one for Barclays and its stakeholders, with multiple issues of our own making besetting the bank.

"I think it only right that I bear an appropriate degree of accountability for those matters and I have concluded that it would be wrong for me to receive a bonus for 2012 given those circumstances."

Investors welcomed Mr Jenkins' decision but questioned why it had taken the disclosure of Sir John's meeting to prompt him to make the decision given that Barclays has in the last year set aside the best part of £2bn for Libor-rigging fines and compensating customers for mis-selling payment protection insurance policies and interest rate hedging products.

During their meeting earlier this month, Sir John told shareholders that the Barclays board wanted to pay Mr Jenkins a "significant" bonus.

Sky News reported on Tuesday that it was unclear whether Mr Jenkins would accept a bonus award. His decision not to will put pressure on the chief executives of HSBC (LSE: HSBA.L - news) and Lloyds Banking Group (LSE: LLOY.L - news) to follow suit after both banks were also forced to set aside significant sums because of various industry scandals.

Stephen Hester, the chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland (LSE: RBS.L - news) , said last year that he would not accept a bonus for 2012.