(Bloomberg) -- Barclays Plc’s activist investor Edward Bramson has taken a fresh swipe at the bank, telling his investors that its new chairman must address the lender’s “destructive strategy.”
Bramson, who became one of Barclays’s top investors last year, said in a recent letter seen by Bloomberg News that the securities unit is still far from competitive. However, it’s too early to draw a conclusion on whether Nigel Higgins, who took over the chairmanship in May, is making the right changes, Bramson wrote. Barclays’s Chief Executive Officer Jes Staley has been the key defender of its investment bank since taking the reins in 2015.
“For the time being we think it is the best course to wait to see whether or not Mr Higgins can address Barclays’ current value destructive strategy with a scalpel or if more comprehensive change will be required,” Bramson said in the letter sent Sept. 3, which made no mention of Staley by name.
Spokesmen for both Bramson and Barclays declined to comment.
Staley has tightened cost controls and cut jobs in the last few quarters in an effort to hit profitability targets. Bramson, meanwhile, has long argued that focusing on the corporate and investment bank (CIB) is a mistake. The activist, whose Sherborne Investors Management LP holds stock and derivatives worth about 5.5% of Barclays, tried and failed to get a board seat and revamp the bank’s strategy in May.
“Markets activities consume so much of the company’s assets and management attention that, without addressing them, Barclays will be unable to fix the profitability issues that plague the CIB and the group as a whole,” Bramson wrote.
The division posted a 4% fall in half-year income to 5.2 billion pounds ($6.4 billion) in August, hit by lower banking fees and a 6% decline in markets income. The bank eliminated 3,000 jobs in the second quarter and is offloading businesses including its automated options business in New York.
The investment bank “is not self-sustaining and is structurally uncompetitive. This is not as a result of simplistic sound bites such as low volatility, Brexit, or having a headquarters outside of the USA, but rather because Barclays’ strategy misaligned with the modern CIB marketplace,” according to the activist.
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