Barclays on 'collision course' with shareholders over bonus bonanza

Tue Mar 11, 2014 1:56pm EDT
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By Steve Slater and Chris Vellacott

LONDON (Reuters) - Barclays faces a backlash from shareholders over its decision to raise bonuses despite a fall in profits, with investors increasingly demanding CEO Antony Jenkins give more money to them and less to his staff.

British banks have failed to rein in pay despite a new EU cap, leading to a threat that politicians and regulators in both

Brussels and London might impose more curbs.

Few have drawn as much criticism as Barclays, where profits fell by a third but staff have just won a 10 percent bigger bonus pot to share for last year than the year before.

Jenkins said in a newspaper interview last week that he was forced to increase bonuses after an exodus from Barclays' investment bank in America left him fearing a "death spiral". But the excuse seems only to have annoyed shareholders who think he should have fought harder on their behalf.

"The bonus issue is on a collision course with shareholders again. I have been unhappy with this for a long time," one of the bank's institutional shareholders told Reuters on Tuesday.

"Shareholders have been long suffering, while employees sail on unscathed. They will trot out the same arguments again, about how if they don't pay up they will lose key staff. This is a bluff that has never yet been called," the shareholder added.

In a rare public display of criticism, Fidelity, Barclays' 17th biggest shareholder, said it was "disappointed" the bank was not paying shareholders more.   Continued...

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