Barclays in a spin. Bob Diamond goes, Marcus Agius comes back

[Update] In twenty four hours, the LIBOR scandal at Barclays bank results in exit of Marcus Agius as Chairman. Then CEO Bob Diamond quits, and Mr Agius returns as Executive Chairman through the revolving door of fate

Yesterday LWD noted the departure of Mr Agius, and speculated on the future of Bob Diamond. Diamond Bob had gone out of his way to reassure significant financial individuals in and outside Barclays that the story would fade away leaving financial institutions relatively unscathed.

Within twenty four hours, the matter had become the centre of a political as well as a financial storm. It seems that the establishment of parliamentary enquiries to investigate the LIBOR affair had resulted in a decision by Mr Diamond to quit immediately [BBC’s financial sleuth Robert Peston, 8.30 am, July 3rd 2012, shortly after the announcement was made public]

I speculated yesterday that Mr Diamond was a financial asset whose value could fall as well as rise. The fall was more rapid than I could have imagined.

A storm brews

The story is escalating as quickly as any I have followed over many years. In 24 hours there have been debates in the House of Lords and House of Commons. Those impacted include very senior civil servants, the head of the Bank of England, the fomer head of Barclays, John Varley, high-profile political figures such as George Osborne [who seems to have some part to play in any political story in the UK at present]. Oh, yes, and various financial executives at Barclays and elsewhere who found yesterday a good day for resigning their posts.

Update [6th July 2012]

The Diamond performance to the commons committee attracted widespread attention. The opinions varied from ’10 out of 10’ [for avoiding any ‘confessional’ statement that might be held against him ], to much lower ratings for failing to convince the committee of his integrity [laughter at his perceived obfuscations], and an error of judgment in trying to be too familiar [use of first names . The committee was also rated in some commentaries, but I couldn’t find any assessment that was positive.

I urge students of leadership to get hold of a full copy of proceedings. Also note that for MBA business presentations (not to mention for Newsnight’s Jeremy Paxman) the interviewee would certainly be more promptly advised to deal directly with a simple question (but that’s a bit more advanced than media training 101)

4 Responses to Barclays in a spin. Bob Diamond goes, Marcus Agius comes back

  1. 10 years ago Bob Diamond might have been right about the story fading away. Social Media has changed the game! News tweets, yams, etc penetrate every social and age group; they amplify peoples’ feelings and reactions, especially when the news are about controversial actions, true or not, of people in key positions, leaders or not. Who’s next to fall after Bob.

  2. Paul Hinks says:

    Adrian –

    I agree with your comments about social media – it helps create momentum and steer opinion for a particular subject matter – and there’s no doubting Barclays has been debated & scrutinised intensely in the recent days & months 🙂

    Traditional media still has it’s part to play though – I was listening to a Radio 4 lunchtime program yesterday (2nd July) debating the Barclays ‘crisis’ – one of the commentators suggested that Diamond’s tenancy would be addressed by whoever replaced Marcus Agius – implying that Diamond’s days were indeed numbered – how quickly events have unfolded.

    Like many I’ve struggled to relate to Banking’s culture of greed – Diamond’s resignation presents an opportunity for Barclays to distance itself from an era of banking greed – it will be interesting to see which direction Barclays heads next & also which stakeholder has the greatest influence in that decision? (will a breakup of Barclays now follow resulting in a split of their investment banking from retail?)

    Interesting times ahead …

  3. Thanks Adrian and Paul. You are encouraging me to keep up with this fascinating story. Think it will make a great B School leadership case.

  4. Paul Hinks says:

    … agreed, indeed an interesting leadership case …

    I briefly caught 10mins of Paxman on Newsnight last night (4th July) discussing Diamond with John Mann & Andrea Leadsom – both were in agreement that Diamond’s appearance in the Commons yesterday revealed little insight, the consensus reached that ousted Diamond clearly does know much more than he’s letting on to.

    There’s much more to come…perhaps like peeling an onion, the more layers peeled back, the more some bankers (& maybe some MPs?) will feel like shedding a tear …

    Interesting insights ahead …

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