September 12, 2014 / 8:16 AM / 5 years ago

Barclays picks Aviva's McFarlane as chairman to oversee revamp

LONDON (Reuters) - Barclays (BARC.L) has appointed banking and insurance veteran John McFarlane as its new chairman to oversee the British bank’s efforts to stamp out wrongdoing and improve performance.

Pedestrians shelter under umbrellas as they walk past a Barclays branch in central London May 8, 2014. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

McFarlane, a Scot, will step down as chairman of British insurer Aviva (AV.L) and take the Barclays hot seat in April.

Aviva said Adrian Montague would take over as its chairman, also in April. He has previously been chairman of UK life insurer Friends Provident and British Energy.

Barclays has been searching for a strong replacement for David Walker, who is 74 and been chairman since November 2012. With Chief Executive Antony Jenkins he has tried to improve culture after a series of scandals - including the mis-selling of loan insurance and the attempted manipulation of Libor interest rates - raised concern about lax standards.

McFarlane, 67, was chief executive of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) (ANZ.AX) for 10 years until 2007 and has been Aviva’s chairman since July 2012, making some tough decisions to turn around an underperforming business.

He took over the full-time running of the insurer in May 2012 after an investor revolt saw off CEO Andrew Moss.

McFarlane delivered a damning assessment of Moss’s five years in charge and vowed “to regain the respect of shareholders by eliminating the discount in our share price”. He appointed Mark Wilson as chief executive, who has overseen an improvement in the insurer’s performance.

“My perception is he’s down to earth and a pretty tough operator with a lot of international experience. It looks like a good choice,” said Mike Trippitt, analyst at Numis Securities.

Barclays is in the midst of its own turnaround, as CEO Jenkins tries to improve profitability by shrinking the bank to slash costs and axe underperforming units and reduce its reliance on investment banking.

McFarlane last year told Reuters there were not many people who could run a big British bank due to the increased regulatory demands on the role.

“There are probably less than a dozen individuals globally that have the right experience to do it. I do think that a chairman of a bank should ideally have relevant banking experience because of the complexity involved,” he said.

Barclays shares were up 1.4 percent by 0920 GMT (10:20 p.m. BST), outperforming a flat European bank index .SX7P. Aviva shares were down 0.8 percent.


Most of McFarlane’s career has been in banking; he joined ANZ from Standard Chartered (STAN.L), where he was an executive director from 1993 to 1997. He worked for Citigroup and its predecessor firms for 18 years until 1993, including as head of its UK and Ireland business for three years.

He began his career in manufacturing with Ford (F.N) in Britain, after studying at the University of Edinburgh and the Cranfield School of Management in Bedford.

McFarlane will also step down as chairman of transport firm FirstGroup (FGP.L). He was also a non-executive director at Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L) after its bailout in October 2008 until 2012.

He will be paid 800,000 pounds a year as Barclays chairman, including 100,000 in its shares, and is not eligible for any bonus. He is expected to work the equivalent of four days a week.

Montague, 66, has been on Aviva’s board since January 2013. He is a qualified solicitor and formerly partner at Linklaters & Paines.

Additional reporting by Simon Jessop; Editing by Pravin Char

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