Barclays chief executive Jes Staley will avoid a potentially embarrassing vote against his re-election over his ties to sex offender Jeffrey Epstein after activist investor Ed Bramson lightened demands for his removal in light of Covid-19 epidemic.
Bramson called for Staley’s withdrawal last month, but on Thursday he admitted that the bank would need more time to replace the chief executive as he attempted to deal with the more pressing challenges posed by the pandemic.
Bramson, whose Sherborne Investors vehicle has a more than 5% stake in Barclays, said it called on Barclays shareholders to abstain from the vote, which is due to take place before the bank’s annual general meeting on June 7. may. It should take place via webcast due to the rules of physical distancing.
A letter from Bramson to Barclays shareholders said, “We continue to believe that Mr. Staley has not demonstrated the level of judgment that is appropriate for a director or a senior executive of the company.
“However, due to the engagement with Barclays and in recognition of the complexity of the management situation presented during the Covid-19 pandemic, we will now, with great reluctance, only suspend our vote for the renewal of the mandate from Mr. Staley at the AGM 2020, rather than voting against him. ”
Bramson said his fellow shareholders should push Barclays’ board of directors to establish a succession schedule. He added that Staley’s eventual departure “would put an end to what has now degenerated into a series of public performances”.
British regulators are investigating whether Staley was transparent enough about his relationship with Epstein, who died in prison in August 2019 while awaiting trial for the trafficking of underage girls.
Staley, who joined Barclays in 2015, said he developed a relationship with Epstein in 2000 when he became the boss of JP Morgan’s private bank, which included Epstein among his wealthy clients. The Barclays boss said his relationship with Espstein declined after leaving JP Morgan in 2013. He made one last visit to the private Caribbean island of Epstein with his wife in the final months of 2015.
The Epstein investigation comes less than two years after Staley was fined almost £ 650,000 for trying to find a whistleblower at Barclays in 2016.
Barclays supports its chief executive and said Staley “retains the full confidence of the board and is unanimously recommended for re-election” at the AGM. He conducted his own review of Staley’s relations with Epstein and concluded that the CEO had “been sufficiently transparent with the company regarding the nature and extent of his relationship with Mr. Epstein”.