Barclays targets 'clean and prosperous' 2018 as overhaul continues
By Sinead Cruise and Lawrence White
LONDON (Reuters) - Barclays Chairman John McFarlane has pledged to deliver a "clean and prosperous" 2018 to investors, putting a deadline on a vast program of restructuring and asset sales that will cause staffing numbers to fall by 50,000.
Speaking at the bank's annual general meeting (AGM) on Thursday, McFarlane thanked investors for their patience while Barclays runs down businesses it no longer sees as capable of generating appropriate returns, against a backdrop of rising regulatory costs and poor economic conditions.
Following these disposals, which include the sell-down of its 62 percent stake in Barclays Africa Group, McFarlane said the bank expected group full-time employees to reduce by around 50,000 people, resulting in a total headcount of 80,000 - almost half the staff employed at its peak.
The cost savings achieved from these cuts and the refocusing of the business would enable the bank to reintroduce a "respectable dividend level" and transform Barclays into a "significantly smaller, safer" bank, McFarlane said.
Barclays on Wednesday cheered investors with a more resilient than expected performance from its investment banking unit, amid a tough quarter for Wall Street firms.
Investors grilled Staley and McFarlane in a generally good-natured three-hour meeting over issues including executives' pay levels, their fatigue over strategy changes, and the decision to sell the bank's stake in its Africa unit.
Nonetheless, over 97 percent of shareholders who voted authorized the bank to sell down its stake in Barclays Africa to the sub-20 percent level where it can consolidate the unit's earnings into its own.