United Kingdom

Barclays boss Jes Staley clings onto his job for at another two years

Barclays boss Jes Staley is holding on to his role for at least another two years after profits rebounded despite the pandemic.

He said earlier this year that he would leave in 2021, after a probe into his association with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein raised concerns with investors.

But after Barclays backtracked when the pandemic hit, saying Staley would stay on to see it through the crisis, he has committed to at least another two years.

Commitment: Barclays chief exec Jes Staley (pictured with wife Debora) will remain in the job for at least another two years

As Barclays released its third-quarter results, Staley said that since he joined in 2015, his time had been occupied with selling non-essential parts following the financial crisis and trying to prepare for the 'seismic move' of Brexit.

He added: 'We're now walking into a once-in-a-century pandemic. It would be nice to be here in kinder winds, so, for sure, I think I'll be here for another couple of years. 

Then it's just a question of when is the appropriate time to make a transition.' Its results lifted shares 7 per cent to 111.54p.

Staley's commitment to its investment bank, despite calls from activist investor Ed Bramson to downsize the division, paid off, as it contributed £2.9billion in the three months to September, up 11 per cent on last year.

The third-quarter profit of £1.1billion outstripped forecasts of £507million. Even the card payments arm returned to profitability. 

But year-to-date profits are at £2.4billion, down 27 per cent on the same time last year.

Barclays was aided by a more moderate provision for bad loans of £608million, the smallest this year. It has set aside £4.3billion in 2020 for loans it expects to turn sour.

Finance boss Tushar Morzaria said the peak of unemployment was expected early next year. 

Even so, Barclays hinted that it would be in a good position to resume dividends if the Bank of England lifts restrictions. Staley said it would still look to cut office space and shut branches.

Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Nicholas Hyett said: 'While these results aren't exactly pretty, they're far less ugly than we had feared.'

Staley's commitment to stay may rile investors hoping for new leadership. Bramson, who has a stake through his firm Sherborne, called for him to leave immediately after the Financial Conduct Authority announced a probe into the chief executive.

The probe has not suggested any criminality on Staley's part, but it is looking into whether he was honest with his employer when disclosing details of his relationship with Epstein. 

Staley visited Epstein in 2008 while the financier was serving time for child sex offences, and in 2015 joined him at his Caribbean retreat.

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