April 23, 2014 / 8:07 PM / 6 years ago

Pension funds pile pressure on Barclays over governance

Logos are seen outside a branch of Barclays bank in London July 30, 2013. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) - A group of British public sector pension funds has heaped pressure on Barclays (BARC.L) ahead of its annual general meeting by saying it has governance concerns over the company’s search for a new chairman.

That could add even more spice to Thursday’s meeting as investors are asked to approve the bank’s plan to increase the staff bonus pool by 10 percent even though 2013 profits fell.

The furore that plan initially caused had already prompted the replacement of the head of its remuneration committee, John Sunderland. As a result, his role in leading the search for a new company chairman was inappropriate, the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) said on Wednesday.

“How can it be appropriate for him to lead the selection of Barclays’ new Chair to replace Sir David Walker?” the LAPFF, whose 60 members collectively manage more than 120 billion pounds in assets, said in a statement.

“There have been significant concerns expressed by LAPFF over governance and executive remuneration at Barclays for some time now. It appears that a continuing series of no votes by institutional shareholders is one of the few options open for meaningful engagement at Barclays.”

Earlier this month Pirc, a shareholder advisory group, told investors they should oppose Barclays’ bonus payouts for last year, as well as its controversial plan to make extra payments to staff.

On Tuesday British business minister Vince Cable singled out the Barclays as he warned that companies must rein in “excessive and disproportionate” executive pay or face tighter regulation.

Reporting by Simon Jessop and Jemima Kelly; Editing by David Goodman

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