Another day, another bonus bonanza at Barclays: this time, it's £32m in shares for top management.
This collection of bonuses, we are invited to think, is merely of passing interest because it relates to awards made in past years. Yes, that's how the new system of deferral of bonuses works. But let's not pretend these are "normal" sums for a bank in Barclays' position to be handing out as executive prizes.
The bank's share price stands close to a 15-month low. Shareholders were obliged to stump up £5.8m via a rights issue last year.
Profits for 2013 fell by a third and the dividend was merely maintained.
Given that recent record, £32m for a dozen individuals is further evidence of how the dice are loaded in favour of Barclays' executives.
Remember: if Barclays' shares had not performed so miserably in the past year the value of these bonus shares would be much greater. These are, in effect, prizes for being an also-ran.
The only vaguely encouraging development is that chief executive Antony Jenkins (£3.8m of the £32m) has been so embarrassed by this year's bonus round that he has launched another review of Barclays' investment bank, which is where the big bucks are made.
Maybe a combination of cost cuts and strategic retreat from areas where Barclays can admit it is outgunned will hasten the day the investment bank can reliably earn returns greater than the group's cost of equity.
That's the hope. But, as time passes, it looks increasingly like Jenkins erred on day one by failing to order a demerger of the investment bank. That would have been a radical change of direction – and Barclays' share price would almost certainly be higher today.
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