News Column


May 9, 2014


? Standard Chartered hit by pay revolt ? BOSSES at Standard Chartered are planning peace talks with investors after rebelling shareholders came close to rejecting the directors' pay policy yesterday.

At the bank's AGM the vote on pay was opposed by 41 per cent of investors, evoking memories of the shareholder spring and putting pressure on chief executive Peter Sands to improve relationships.

The tight vote emphasises the fall from grace for the emerging markets specialist, which had been the toast of the City after looking as though it had come through the credit crunch stronger than ever.

Just 18 months ago the bank was celebrating its 10th consecutive year of record profits, in contrast to other UKbased lenders hit by the crash.

But six months ago it shocked the City with a profit warning, partly caused by the emerging markets slowdown, and yesterday reported another fall in profits.

Investors showed their frustration at feeling taken for granted. A major shareholder in the bank complained to City A.M. that the chair of the remuneration committee had not even been available to discuss pay.

Instead the bank sent other board members or officials in some instances, disappointing investors.

Another objected that the pay policies have been communicated poorly. "Although we are pleased that all the votes on Standard Chartered's executive remuneration have been passed, we are clearly concerned that a significant minority of shareholders voted against the bank's new remuneration policy," said a spokesman for the bank.

"We acknowledge their views, will reflect on them, and continue our dialogue with our shareholders to address them properly."

A strong majority backed a motion to allow bonuses of up to 200 per cent of salaries, the maximum allowed under the EU's bonus cap rules.

The bank reported a high single digit percentage fall in profits, led by its troubled Korean arm. Shares rose 2.03 per cent, but are still down more than 20 per cent from this time last year.

? Barclays cuts investment bank jobs in major overhaul BY TIM WALLACE BARCLAYS yesterday abandoned former chief executive Bob Diamond's dream of becoming a top global investment bank in every market, revealing plans to lay off 7,000 more staff.

As part of his long-awaited strategic overhaul of the bank, chief executive Antony Jenkins also announced plans to focus only on areas where the bank has strong returns and can make sustainable profits. A total of 19,000 staff will now be cut over the next three years in a drive to slash costs and boost returns.

"In the current environment the investment bank consumes too much capital and does not generate sufficient returns," Jenkins said. "The resources behind it will enable us to compete and win in those areas where we have a competitive advantage."

After the changes the investment bank will make up less than 30 per cent of Barclays' risk weighted assets, from 51 per cent now.

Fixed income trading will bear much of the brunt of the cuts, while expensive, capital-intensive areas including long-dated derivatives will also be moved to a new bad bank - a non-core unit that will include all of Barclays' western European retail banking, with plans to either wind down or sell each unit over the coming years. Asian units will also be cut back to a series of business hubs, focusing on international clients.

Analysts said the shake-up marks the death of Bob Diamond's ambition to build a global giant.

"This is more like a death by a thousand cuts - Barclays no longer represents the establishment of a British version of Goldman Sachs," said Robert Lyddon from banking network IBOS. "They are going to compete on a niche basis, not the broad based global offering in Bob Diamond's vision."

Barclays shares rose 7.78 per cent.


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Source: City A.M. (UK)