New Barclays chairman flags more change to meet challenges

Thu Apr 23, 2015 11:48am EDT
 
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By Steve Slater and Matt Scuffham

LONDON (Reuters) - New Barclays (BARC.L: Quote) Chairman John McFarlane said the British bank still faces formidable challenges and signaled his intention to accelerate its turnaround plan within an hour of taking charge.

McFarlane took the helm after Thursday's annual shareholder meeting, charged with overseeing its attempts to stamp out wrongdoing and improve performance, and immediately set out his priorities in a letter to shareholders.

"We ... need to get the errors of the past behind us, to achieve a satisfactory rate of revenue growth, greater cost discipline and a more dynamic reallocation of capital," he said.

McFarlane acknowledged that the poor performance of Barclays shares -- trading below most British lenders at 0.7 times the value of its assets -- mean that the bank is still "a recovery proposition for shareholders".

Barclays says it is on the road to recovery under Chief Executive Antony Jenkins, but it still needs to resolve allegations over alleged misconduct in the past while bringing returns back above its cost of capital and deciding how big to keep its investment banking operation.

McFarlane, who oversaw a radical turnaround of insurer Aviva (AV.L: Quote), said he is optimistic of a successful outcome, having dealt with similar situations in the past.

That could include the axing of businesses that struggle to make a decent return. "We need to ... put in place plans and action to improve them or curtail those that are unable to be resuscitated," McFarlane said.

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A branch of Barclays bank is seen in central London in this photograph dated October 22, 2014. REUTERS/Toby Melville