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Jenkins axes high-paid bankers

Barclays' boss Antony Jenkins today banished the ghost of Bob Diamond as he took an axe to highly-paid staff at the investment banking division built up by his predecessor.

Shares rose 7% as the bank said it was cutting 7,000 more jobs at the unit whose huge bonuses have fuelled public and shareholder anger - and signalled that the number of £1 million-plus bankers would fall.

It brings to 19,000 the total number of jobs across the group that will go by 2016, following an announcement earlier this year. It is estimated that up to about half of these will be in the UK, some of them branch based.

Mr Diamond built up the investment banking division of Barclays before becoming chief executive of the wider group. He resigned in 2012 in the wake of the scandal over traders who attempted to rig the interbank lending rate, Libor.

His ambition to make Barclays Capital the "premier global investment bank" saw it expand to an extent where it still represents more than half of the group.

But Mr Jenkins declined to endorse this goal as he set out the latest changes, instead saying: "Our ambition is to be a focused international bank and that applies to the investment bank as much as any other part of Barclays."

The chief executive added: "Clearly with a smaller investment bank, our expectation is that the number of highly-paid people in Barclays, defined as over £1 million, will come down over time."

Public anger over the causes of the financial crisis, together with scandals such as Libor and huge pay packets, have tarnished the image of so-called "casino" banking - as opposed to traditional retail branches.

Last month Barclays was given a bloody nose at its annual general meeting after the staff bonus pool rose 10% to £2.38 billion despite a fall in annual profits. It was accused of "paying for Manchester United but getting Colchester United".

Earlier this week, it emerged that first-quarter pre-tax profits at the investment bank had fallen by half compared with last year.

It will now shrink to a size where it will represent no more than 30% of Barclays by 2016, with personal and corporate banking growing to become a "powerhouse".

Staff numbers at the investment bank of about 26,200 at the end of 2013 - with about 10,000 in the UK - will have fallen by more than a third, or about 10,000.

The strategy review will see £90 billion of assets from the division hived off into a non-core unit, which will house this and other businesses that Barclays now says it wants to sell off or run down.

Its creation of this so-called "bad bank" spells uncertainty for 6,000 staff at its branches in Portugal, Spain, Italy and France as the group's entire European retail arm is also earmarked as no longer fitting strategic objectives.

Barclays said many of the businesses in the £115 billion non-core unit were profitable and some would be attractive to other owners.

The 6,000 employed in the European retail division have not been counted among the total job cuts, since it will continue to operate for the time being, so could add to the overall job cuts number if buyers cannot be found.

Mr Jenkins said: "This is a bold simplification of Barclays. We will be a focused international bank, operating only in areas where we have capability, scale and competitive advantage.

"In the future, Barclays will be leaner, stronger, much better balanced and well-positioned to deliver lower volatility, higher returns and growth."

There were no new announcements about bank branches or their staff in the latest update but Mr Jenkins said it was inevitable that the number of staff employed in this part of the bank would fall.

Barclays currently employs about 140,000 people around the world, including more than 50,000 in the UK.

About a third of the 7,000 job cuts announced today will be in the UK, which added to about 7,000 outlined in February comes to more than 9,000, though rounding up could mean the total is nearer to 8,500.

Chancellor George Osborne said any job losses were "regrettable" but that they were part of its strategy of building a bank focused on its customers and that could be part of a sector supporting the British economy.

Mr Jenkins said the changes marked a "very significant chapter" in the 325-year history of the bank.

They come more than a year after he announced his Transform programme to shake up Barclays. Mr Jenkins said there had been "major shifts in the external regulatory and economic environment" since then.

Investec analyst Ian Gordon expressed scepticism over the announcement, saying: "We are indifferent to the creation of a bad bank." He said the previous finance director "had no truck with such presentational nonsense".


From Belfast Telegraph