With Agius's exit from Barclays, will Diamond stay?

  • 1 July 2012
  • From the section Business
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Some shareholders have felt for some months that Barclays needed a new chairman - because the incumbent, Marcus Agius, has been in the job for almost six years and there is a perception, which is perhaps false, that he is not quite tough enough.

You might remember that I said on Thursday that influential investors were saying he would probably have to quit, in the light of Barclays' admission that it tried to rig important interest rates.

Mr Agius has told the bank's board he is going - and an announcement will be made tomorrow.

It is not clear who will replace the former Lazard investment banker. Among Barclays existing non-executive directors, the leading candidate is thought to be Sir Mike Rake, who is currently chairman of BT.

The outsider's name I have heard mentioned as a potential chairman is Sir Gus O'Donnell, who recently retired as head of the civil service.

So where does that leave Bob Diamond, Barclays' chief executive - whom some have said should quit, because he ran Barclays' investment bank during the period when its traders were trying to manipulate the important Libor interest rates and when the bank was understating what it had to pay to borrow?

As I understand it, Barclays board has thrown its weight behind Mr Diamond.

They believe he is the right man to clean up the bank's culture, even if some would say he was partly to blame for the historic shortcomings in the bank's culture.

Ultimately, though, whether he stays or goes will depend on the attitude of the bank's owners.

And the first task of the new chairman will be to ascertain whether they retain confidence in Mr Diamond.