Barclays Chairman Agius resigns following record Libor fine

Leader falls on his sword...

David Cameron

Both Diamond and Agius have been called to appear this week before British lawmakers on the Treasury Select Committee. The U.K. government is also preparing an inquiry into the future of Libor, including introducing criminal penalties for people who breach rules surrounding the rate, said a Treasury spokesman, who declined to be named citing government policy.

Prime Minister David Cameron on June 28 called for accountability to go “all the way to the top,” while opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband has called for a full inquiry into the industry’s practices.

“Politicians will see this as him taking a bullet for Bob Diamond,” said Christopher Wheeler, a London-based banking analyst at Mediobanca SpA. “They realized they needed to do something, and Agius was chairman during the time they got fined for -- but will it be enough?”

Diamond, who built up and ran the securities unit during the period being probed by regulators, may keep his job because he has no obvious successor, according to Chirantan Barua, an analyst at Sanford Bernstein Research in London. None of the bank’s largest shareholders have publicly called for Diamond’s resignation so far.

‘Poster Child’

“Barclays has become the poster child for this because they have been the first to be assessed by the regulators on both sides of the Atlantic,” Euan Stirling, who manages U.K. stocks at Standard Life Investments, told the British Broadcasting Corp.’s Today program today. “This is going to spread far and wide throughout the industry”

Diamond, 60, his three top lieutenants, Chief Operating Officer Jerry del Missier, Finance Director Chris Lucas and corporate and investment banking chief Rich Ricci have already forfeited their bonuses for this year following the fines.

Agius joined Barclays after a 34-year career at Lazard Ltd., where he had been chairman of the firm’s London unit. There, he advised on banking takeovers including Halifax Group Plc’s 2001 merger with Bank of Scotland to create HBOS Plc. As non-executive chairman of BAA Plc, Agius helped the owner of London’s Heathrow airport negotiate a higher takeover price from Grupo Ferrovial SA in 2006.

Quits BBA

He had already faced investor pressure when the lender raised more than 5 billion pounds in 2008 from a group of funds from Abu Dhabi and Qatar without giving existing shareholders the opportunity to buy new stock. Shareholders including Legal & General Group Plc complained at the time their pre-emption rights had been ignored, and in protest about 16 percent of investors opposed Agius’s re-election as chairman in April 2009.

He also had to apologize to shareholders for failing to communicate the firm’s pay plans to investors clearly in April after 27 percent of shareholders voted against Diamond’s 12 million-pound compensation package.

Agius also stepped down today as chairman of the British Bankers’ Association, the industry lobby group that oversees Libor.

Libor is determined by about 18 banks’ daily estimates of how much it would cost them to borrow from one another for different time frames and in different currencies. Because banks’ submissions aren’t based on real trades, the potential exists for the benchmark to be manipulated by traders.

Next page: Bank of England...

Copyright 2014 Bloomberg. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Comments
comments powered by Disqus