July 2 (Bloomberg) -- Barclays Plc Chairman Marcus Agius resigned after the bank was fined a record 290 million pounds ($455 million) for trying to rig interest rates in a bid to head off pressure for Chief Executive Officer Robert Diamond to quit.
“I am truly sorry,” Agius, who had been chairman of Britain’s second-largest bank by assets since 2007, said in a statement today. “Last week’s events, evidencing as they do unacceptable standards of behavior within the bank, have dealt a devastating blow to Barclays’s reputation.”
John Sunderland, a Barclays director and former chairman of Cadbury Schweppes Plc, will oversee a search for a replacement, the London-based lender said. Michael Rake will become deputy chairman. Agius, 65, will remain in his position until his replacement is appointed.
He is the most senior executive to step down so far following probes by global regulators into whether lenders colluded to manipulate Libor. Lawmakers are pushing for Diamond’s resignation after U.K. and U.S. regulators found the lender “systematically” attempted to rig the London and euro interbank offered rates for profit.
Agius’s departure “will do little to appease the many who see Bob Diamond as having primary responsibility,” Gary Greenwood, a banking analyst at Shore Capital, said by e-mail. “While Agius’s departure will grab the headlines today, the bigger issue remains whether Diamond should also remain.”
Barclays climbed as much as 5.6 percent and was up 4 percent at 169.4 pence as of 10:54 a.m. in London, valuing the lender at 20.7 billion pounds. The stock has fallen 14 percent since the fine was announced on June 27, making it this year’s worst performer in the six-member FTSE 350 banks index.
Rake, 64, is chairman of BT Group Plc and has been a director of Barclays since 2008. The former accountant will oversee an inquiry into the bank’s business practices, the lender said today. The panel, to be run by an independent outsider and group of non-executive directors, will produce a public report of its findings.
“I am committed to ensuring that the recommendations from this review are implemented in full,” Diamond said in an e- mailed statement today. Agius said the review was part of a broader plan to establish a “zero tolerance” policy for any actions that harm the firm’s reputation.