(Reuters) - Barclays is urging shareholders to oppose activist investor Edward Bramson’s bid to be appointed to the bank’s board at its annual general meeting on May 2, it said on Thursday.
In response to a letter sent by Bramson’s Sherborne investment vehicle to shareholders on April 8, Barclays said the activist investor would have “a disruptive and uncollaborative influence on the board”.
The British bank also questioned Bramson’s banking experience, arguing that he does not have the right skills and he is not aligned with the wider shareholder base.
The lender said Bramson’s letter showed he had “a preconceived viewpoint and a poor understanding” of Barclays and its corporate and investment bank (CIB).
It added that Bramson’s analysis of the under-pressure CIB unit was based on a “flawed understanding of complex banking organisations”.
Bramson, 68, has built a Barclays stake of roughly 5.5 percent but has so far failed in attempts to get the lender to scale back its investment banking activities. Bramson says these have weighed on shareholder returns and could result in the bank being forced to raise fresh capital.
Barclays, however, said it does not need another strategic overhaul, adding that it is already taking action to improve performance without “the unnecessary distraction” of having Bramson on the board.
Barclays Chairman John McFarlane said shareholders need to “appreciate how damaging this could be.”
Bramson and Sherborne Investors could not be reached for immediate comment.
McFarlane also said Barclays had no plans to commit significantly more financial resources to its corporate and investment bank and that urgent work was taking place to bring returns to required levels.
Chief executive Jes Staley took direct control in March of the three CIB divisions - banking, markets and corporate bank - in an effort to soothe investors’ concerns over the operation and boost returns to the 7 percent-plus achieved in 2018.
Reporting by Pamela Barbaglia in London; Additional reporting by Arathy S Nair and Shariq Khan in Bengaluru; Editing by David Goodman