December 21, 2018 / 2:43 PM / a month ago

Barclays rebuffs bid by activist Bramson to gain board seat

FILE PHOTO: Barclays' building in Canary Wharf is seen behind a City of London sign outside Billingsgate Market in London, Britain, August 8, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Barclays (BARC.L) has spurned an attempt by activist investor Edward Bramson for his fund to secure a seat on the board of the British bank.

Bramson’s approach to gain a board seat was rebuffed in informal discussions between the parties, two sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Friday. The rejection was first reported by Sky News.

Bramson’s fund Sherborne Investors (SIGC.L) has said little in public about its plan to shake up Barclays since it first disclosed in March that it had built a stake of more than 5 percent in the bank.

But three people familiar with the matter told Reuters in May that New York-based Bramson was urging the lender to abandon the bulk of its trading activities at its investment bank as part of an overhaul to cut costs and lift returns.

Bramson could still push for a board seat by calling an extraordinary general meeting, but it is unclear whether he would have sufficient support from other Barclays shareholders for the move.

Bramson has previously used stakes in British firms to engineer changes, including at private equity firm Electra and fund manager F&C. He typically joins the boards of the companies he targets.

Sherborne, listed on the London stock market, gave its investors a glimpse of its plan for Barclays in August when the fund said that it was talking to the bank about its capital allocation, quality of earnings, capital adequacy, and cost structure.

Bramson’s fund also said it was engaging with Barclays to find a successor to its Chairman John McFarlane.

The bank subsequently said in November that Rothschild veteran Nigel Higgins would replace McFarlane in May next year.

Reporting by Iain Withers and Ben Martin; Editing by Keith Weir

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