Why Barclays' Rich Ricci Had To Go

Antony Jenkins Barclays

The good news for Rich Ricci is that he is now free to attend Cheltenham Festivals to his heart's content.

His absence from last month's event, where his runners included the famous Fatcatinthehat, was a sure sign his end was nigh at Barclays.

"Client meetings," said the bank, had intervened. Translation: chief executive Antony Jenkins, trying to convince the world he is leading a cultural revolution at Barclays, wanted the grinning mug of his over-rewarded investment banking chief out of the newspapers. Jenkins himself did very nicely during this year's handout of share-based bonuses (he got £5.3m) but the £17.6m for Ricci was the real marmalade-dropper.

By Cheltenham, though, Ricci would have worked out for himself that his face didn't fit any more. At February's strategy shindig Jenkins declined to endorse the leadership of his investment banking chief. "I can't predict the future," said Jenkins lamely. At these set-piece corporate events anything less than an enthusiastic expression of support is taken as a vote of no confidence.

So why did the new-broom boss, who said last year that he wanted to "shred" parts of predecessor Bob Diamond's legacy, wait so long to "retire" Diamond's last remaining right-hand man?

We must assume that it's only now that Jenkins deems it safe to act. He had to demonstrate a decisive break with the past, but he couldn't risk rebellion in the ranks of the investment bank, still contributing two-thirds of Barclays' profits.

Acting seven-and-a-half months after his promotion to chief executive is a reasonable fudge. Jenkins gets his own appointments – Tom King and Eric Bommensath, said to be "low profile" in style (and, presumably, told to keep it that way). Ricci departs with an honourable mention in dispatches for assisting "Project Mango", the plan that saw Barclays' disband its tax-avoidance unit. Ricci made "a major contribution to Barclays over the past 19 years," says Jenkins.

Accompanying Ricci into friendly retirement is Tom Kalaris, head of the wealth and investment unit. That departure has also seemed inevitable since January, when it was reported that a Kalaris underling had shredded the single copy of a report that accused Barclays Wealth America of having a culture that was "actively hostile to compliance".

One Skip McGee (ex-Lehmans) has been given the new post of chief executive of Barclays America with the task of "further enhancing our responsiveness to, and relationships with, the US regulators."

So does Jenkins' selection of his top operatives show Barclays is serious about its "transformation" plan? Well, the new boss had to stamp his authority on the investment bank and the wealth division. Anything less would have not have been credible. Jenkins has reached the starting line.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Nils Pratley, for The Guardian on Thursday 18th April 2013 16.03 Europe/London

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