Britain’s third largest bank Barclays PLC is close to naming former JPMorgan Chase banker Jes Staley as chief executive, a move that could signal a renewed focus on the investment banking division that had been pared back under previous CEO Antony Jenkins.
Barclays offered the position to Staley, currently managing partner of US hedge fund firm BlueMountain Capital Management, and he accepted the offer, a person with knowledge of the situation told Reuters on Monday.
Staley ran JPMorgan’s investment bank and asset management business and had been at the bank for 34 years before leaving in early 2013 to join BlueMountain. He had been on Barclays’ shortlist when it looked for a CEO three years ago.
“The fact that in both cases an investment banker has moved in, rather than a commercial banker, suggests that the risk reward trade-off emphasizing supposedly low risk business has not succeeded only six years after the global financial crisis,” said Jim Antos, analyst at Mizuho Securities Asia in Hong Kong.
European rivals Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse have also named new bosses this year.
Any appointment would also still depend on Staley getting approval from Britain’s financial regulators.
“If this change is approved, it could signal that UK and US regulators are comfortable with the renewed ascendancy of investment banking,” said Antos.
The appointment, which was first reported by the FT, is expected to be announced in the next two weeks, the newspaper said, citing two people familiar with the matter.
Previous CEO Jenkins, who was fired in July for losing the support of non-executive directors in a clash over style and the pace of the bank’s turnaround, had said Barclays had to reduce the importance of the investment bank after a series of scandals, while changes in regulation also made many trading activities unprofitable.
In Asia, Barclays last year let go a raft of senior investment bankers it had plucked from competitors including Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley in an effort to expand in the region after the financial crisis.
Chairman John McFarlane, who has been running the bank in the interim since Jenkins’ exit, had said earlier in July that Barclays would look at internal as well as external candidates to make an appointment.
Barclays’ finance director Tushar Morzaria is another former JPMorgan executive, showing the growing influence of the US bank’s alumni in London.
A spokesman for Barclays PLC in Hong Kong declined to comment. An external spokesman for BlueMountain declined to comment.