UK Markets open in 5 hrs 43 mins

Barclays wants to meet activist investor Ed Bramson, says chief Jes Staley

Iain Withers
Barclays signs

Barclays chief Jes Staley has said he wants to meet corporate raider Ed Bramson within weeks to discuss the activist’s proposals to shake-up the bank, as the lender swung to a £236m quarterly loss.

A hefty £400m further provision for meeting mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI) claims and a £1.4bn settlement with the US Department of Justice dragged the bank into the red.

The £236m pre-tax loss for the first three months of the year compared to a £1.7bn pre-tax profit the previous year.

However with one-off costs stripped out, Barclays posted a 1pc rise in pre-tax profits to £1.7bn.

Barclays’ under-fire investment bank enjoyed an improved quarter as volatility returned to markets. The bank said trading revenues were up 21pc, while equities were up 43pc.

The results came as fellow European investment bank Deutsche Bank revealed plans to shrink its rival unit after another disappointing quarter.

Christian Sewing, the new boss at Germany’s biggest bank, said the lender would make “significant” job cuts in the arm, after the firm as a whole posted slender net profits of €120m (£96m).

Profile | Jes Staley

Barclays’ investment banking division has long been under scrutiny, but the pressure has intensified since Mr Bramson’s activist investment vehicle Sherborne built up a more than 5pc stake in the bank.

Mr Bramson is understood to be focussed on overhauling the division, according to investors briefed on his plans. Sherborne is yet to speak publicly about its intentions.

Mr Staley said the first quarter results provided “validation of the strategy we set out two years ago” to become a transatlantic bank straddling both retail and investment banking.

All eyes will be on whether Mr Bramson turns up to Barclays’ AGM in London next Tuesday, and on whether he vocally pushes for change.

Barclays share price

Commenting on meeting Sherborne, Mr Staley said: “We are scheduling a meeting now that our first quarter results are done.

“We engage with all our major shareholders and we look forward to that dialogue… We look forward to having a very constructive conversation with Sherborne.”

He said he hoped the meeting would take place in the “next number of weeks”.

Mr Staley also commented for the first time on the forthcoming fine he is set to receive for twice attempting to unmask a whistleblower in 2014.

The decision by City watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority not to ban Staley from running a bank disappointed whistleblower lawyers, who have claimed the decision would deter others.

Mr Staley said “we accept where they came out” on the fine and that he was “broadly comfortable” with the outcome.

The PPI hit and US fine for past mis-selling of toxic mortgages dented Barclays’ capital buffer, which edged down to 12.7pc from 13.3pc.

But Mr Staley said he was confident in the lender’s position and believed the core capital ratio would return to around 13pc “in good time”.