Abigail with attitude: Africa in for Diamond, Asia out for Barclays
Returning to the category of imperial CEOs, most would agree that Bob Diamond, the former Barclays chief, was an earlier poster boy: a Do-it-my-way-or-take-the-highway kind of boss.
Diamond’s successor, Antony Jenkins, doesn’t come across in the same mould. Jenkins is more of the hand-wringing, Let-us-do-penance-for-our-sins type of bank leader.
A mole in Asia reports that clients are increasingly questioning whether or not Barclays’ investment bank has the appetite to be a big player in Asian capital markets. I even heard a rumour that some clients are asking questions such as: "If we give you this mandate, will you even be around to do the deal in six months’ time?"
When Jenkins set out his new strategy for the bank in early 2013, he talked about wanting a presence in three key areas: the UK, the US and Africa. The big A, as in Asia, was missing. To me this seems eminently sensible. After all, Asia is an over-investment banked region and fees tend to be on the skinny side. As one senior banker told me: "Asia is all about jam tomorrow." Jenkins is much more focused on the bread and butter of today.
And talking of Bob Diamond, market participants are chattering about an interview with the former Barclays chief, which appeared in the New York Times in early May.