José Manuel Barroso, the former Portuguese prime minister and one-time head of the European commission, has been hired by Goldman Sachs to help it deal with the fallout from the UK’s shock vote to leave the European Union.
Barroso, who was president of the European commission for 10 years until 2014, is becoming chairman of Goldman Sachs International – the bank’s UK and European operations – and will also be an adviser. His pay has not been disclosed.
He replaces Ireland’s former attorney general Peter Sutherland who left in May 2015 and whose position had been temporarily filled by the Swedish businessman Claes Dahlback, another non-executive director.
Barroso joins Goldman Sachs as the investment bank is not only tackling Brexit but is also facing questions about its involvement in BHS, the retailer that collapsed in April. It is also fighting a court case brought by the Libyan Investment Authority for losses on trades during the 2008 financial crisis.
He told the Financial Times (£) that one of the most difficult elements in the UK’s Brexit negotiations would be over passporting rights – the ability to trade from the UK across to what will now be a 27 nation bloc.
“What I know for sure is that on both sides it will be intelligent and wise to have a fair negotiation,” he told the FT. “Nobody wins from a confrontation.”
He said he would attempt to mitigate the negative effects of the referendum result. “Of course I know well the EU, I also know relatively well the UK environment,” Barroso said. “If my advice can be helpful in this circumstance I’m ready to contribute, of course.”
During his final period of tenure at the commission, Barroso was critical of David Cameron’s handling of the EU and the prime minister’s ambitions to impose a cap on immigrants from eastern Europe. While he was head of the commission, Barroso was at heart of the banking crisis and the ensuing fallout which gripped the eurozone. He has been critical of the behaviour of banks.
“As president of the EC, I was leading an overall effort of regulation and supervision, including the creation of banking union in the euro area, to bring back stability, credibility to the financial sector,” Barroso told the FT.
Before taking the EC role, Barroso was prime minister of Portugal between 2002 and 2004.
The co-heads of Goldman Sachs International, Michael Sherwood and Richard Gnodde, said that Barroso had been hired for his understanding of Europe. “We look forward to working with him as we continue to help our clients navigate the challenging and uncertain economic and market environment,” they said in a joint statement.
This article was written by Jill Treanor, for theguardian.com on Friday 8th July 2016 16.09 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010