An activist investor of Barclays has threatened a boardroom shake-up as he announced plans for a shareholder vote on the bank’s leadership. Edward Bramson, who has spent about £900m building a 5.5% stake in Barclays through his investment vehicle Sherborne Investors, told his own shareholders that a vote was necessary, given that “consistent engagement” with Barclays had failed to yield results.
He is pushing Barclays to scale back its investment banking business, which he says has “strategic weaknesses.” Bramson believes more resources should instead be funnelled towards the bank’s “attractive” consumer operations. “It seems increasingly likely that, for any progress to be made on our concerns, we will be required to seek a shareholder vote to make changes in the composition of the board,” Bramson said. However, the bank’s performance is not out of line with its peers – Lloyds and RBS have each fallen just shy of 30% over the same period.
Bramson has been jostling for a position on the Barclays board. However, the bank’s directors told him that while they looked forward to continued engagement, his board representation would not be needed, according to Sherborne’s shareholder letter. The prospect of an activist investor on the board of an important UK bank would likely face hurdles from regulators that may have questions over potential risks to financial stability.