Barclays' most senior banker in the US is to leave, triggering fears of an exodus of staff as the business prepares for another restructuring of its controversial investment banking arm.
Skip McGee – who received £8.8m of shares in March – was the most senior banker remaining from Barclays' takeover of the Wall Street operations of Lehman Brothers when the latter collapsed in September 2008.
McGee took the top job in the US only 12 months ago following a reshuffle in the wake of the Libor-rigging scandal that also saw the departure of the previous global investment banking boss Rich Ricci. McGee is regarded as the last individual responsible for the growth of the US arm of the investment bank following the 2008 crisis.
The announcement of McGee's departure comes a week before Barclays' embattled chief executive, Antony Jenkins, is due to unveil a new strategy for the investment bank in an attempt to head off criticism over low returns for shareholders and big bonuses for bankers.
Jenkins has been forced to defend the pay packets of the investment bankers after raising the bonus pot by 10% during 2013 when profits fell by 32% and shareholders were asked to back a £5.8bn cash-call.
Appointed in the wake of Bob Diamond's departure following the Libor scandal, Jenkins has been under pressure to rein in the investment banks but he justified the bonus increases by saying the bank faced a "death spiral" if bankers carried out their threats to leave.
At the annual shareholder meeting last week, Jenkins said the bank was going to become "simpler, much more balanced, and much more focused" – words taken to mean the investment bank would be subjected to sweeping job cuts.
Jenkins told the bank's shareholders a week ago that his review on 8 May would examine four areas: regulatory changes, organising the group to make cost savings, focusing on sustainable returns and achieving the "right shape and size of the investment bank".
McGee said he was looking forward to his next challenge: "After 21 years with Lehman Brothers and Barclays, I have made the difficult decision to leave. Banking is a 'team sport', and I am incredibly proud of the team we assembled here".
His successor was named as Joe Gold, head of client capital management, who will not have a seat on Jenkins' executive management board and starts his new role on Thursday.
The bank said Gold was being appointed as it prepared to make the changes required by new US rules – known as Dodd-Frank – which effectively require banks to ringfence their investment banking activities across the Atlantic in a holding company.
Jenkins said Gold had been selected because he understood "the rapidly-changing regulatory landscape" and would help to improve returns for shareholders in the "evolving market environment".
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