Barclays: Strong leaders must choose the right path
Barclays found the discipline to walk away from the ABN Amro deal, the determination to grab Lehman and the smarts to take the tough decisions quickly with its new US business. The same hunger for growth courses through its retail and commercial bank. But bad assets are the cost to pay. Investors might wonder who is keeping things under control at Barclays. Peter Lee reports.
BARCLAYS IS THAT rarity among leading global banks: one that has still not undertaken a transformational merger or takeover, although it came perilously close with ABN Amro. Of course, such deals lead to value destruction more often than not and rarely succeed. Look, if you can bear to, at RBS. Look at Citi and Bank of America.
If Lehman is to be Barclays’ largest deal, then so far so good. Results for the first quarter have been strong. The bank and Bob Diamond, president of Barclays and chief executive of investment banking and investment management, seemed to win over its regiments of new employees on day one... in fact, even before day one.
Skip McGee, as global head of investment banking at Lehman Brothers, was deeply involved in the frantic last weekend of its existence in September 2008, as the firm’s executive management sought a deal with either Bank of America or Barclays. Shuttling between the offices of lawyers, bankers and the Federal Reserve, on that final Friday, the Lehman team found themselves briefly alone together at 1am, facing up to the bewildering fact that the firm where they had built their careers and to which they were devoted was finished as an independent entity.