LONDON (Reuters) - Hugh 'Skip' McGee, one of the British bank Barclays' (BARC.L) highest earners, has quit as head of its Americas business, the bank saying he did not want to oversee the task of establishing a new holding company required under tougher U.S. rules.
The departure of the former Lehman Brothers dealmaker coincides with pressure on Barclays Chief Executive Antony Jenkins to cut staff pay after shareholders last week rebelled against a decision to increase bonuses.
Jenkins said the bonus rise was needed to prevent an exodus of U.S. investment bankers, and McGee's exit is likely to raise concern that some of his former Lehman colleagues will join him.
Barclays said McGee had decided to step down due to the increased amount of time he will need to spend in the next two years on regulations, compliance, legal and operational issues.
The bank has to establish an intermediate holding company by July 2016, which imposes more stringent rules on the U.S. arms of foreign banks and will require them to hold more capital.
Joe Gold, currently head of client capital management, will take over as the head of Barclays' Americas business from May 1. Barclays said the role had been restructured and Gold would report to the co-CEOs of Barclays' corporate and investment banking operations, Tom King and Eric Bommensath.
Barclays hired Gold in 2001 from the failed Enron energy trading business to help lead its expansion into commodities, and he ran its European power and gas trading in London before moving to New York to develop its U.S. commodities business.
Jenkins said Gold understood the fast-changing regulatory landscape and would be helped by non-executive director Stephen Thieke, who previously worked for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, to set up the holding company.
McGee, 53, was awarded nearly 9 million pounds ($15 million) of shares last month under bonus plans from prior years, the highest payout among the bank's executives. His full pay details are not disclosed.
McGee joined Barclays when it bought the U.S. arm of Lehman when the investment bank collapsed in 2008 and became head of its Americas operations in March 2013.
He said that, after 21 years at Lehman and Barclays, he was looking forward to "my next challenge", but did not specify what that would be.
The Texan has spent most of his career advising investment bank clients in the energy sector, including advising on Kinder Morgan's $21 billion purchase of El Paso Corp. He also worked on Verizon's $130 billion takeover of Vodafone's stake in their joint venture, Verizon Wireless.
"He has been the longest-serving head of investment banking on Wall Street, and our most senior client-facing executive, responsible for driving some of the industry's highest profile transactions," Jenkins said.
Jenkins has pledged to cut costs and improve profitability in the investment bank, and will on May 8 unveil details of his plan, which is expected to include the loss of thousands of jobs.
($1 = 0.5950 British Pounds)
Additional reporting by Jonathan Leff in New York; Editing by Kevin Liffey