Have Barclays staff been given false hope ?

A false hope, or a saviour ?

Bloomberg News has reported that Jes Staley, 58, an American with more than three decades’ experience at JPMorgan (many in the investment banking division there), has emerged as Chairman John McFarlane’s top candidate to lead Barclays, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said Monday.

Staley was passed over in the 2012 search for a new CEO in favor of Antony Jenkins, a Barclays veteran with no investment-banking background. Jenkins slashed 7,000 jobs in the division and removed billions of pounds in assets before getting fired by McFarlane in July.

And everyone seems to be now jumping to the conclusion that Staley's imminent arrival means that Barclays has had a rethink, and that the firm's investment banking division will soon be given a bigger role within the organisation, and that the glory days (with those huge bonuses) will soon be back.

But only this week, McFarlane suggested that European investment banks should consider merging to create a regional champion to compete with US rivals, highlighting the anxieties of senior bankers in Europe about the sector’s future.

'If you did want to create an investment banking champion for Europe, you would have to combine the investment banking arms of the main players, but you would have to swallow really hard and you would need political support', John McFarlane told the Financial Times.

Doesn't sound to me like McFarland has big plans to reverse the decision to scale back Barclays' investment banking division. In fact, it's more likely that the canny McFarlane, wants Staley on board to speed up the process of getting investment banking re-sized as soon as possible. Staley understands the business in a way Antony Jenkins wouldn't have done, so might be the perfect man to preside over a complete restructure. Just a thought.

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