The Barclays rebellion is crushed

Barclays HQ Image copyright LEON NEAL

The Barclays board will be happy tonight. A rebellion instigated by its third biggest shareholder failed to muster much support.

Of the shareholders who voted, only 12.8% backed his bid to become a board member and that includes the 7.4% of the votes cast that he cast himself. (Nerd alert: He has a stake of 5.5% but only 74% of shareholders actually voted so that makes 5.5% worth 7.4% of those that bothered to vote.)

Bramson wants Barclays to shrink its investment banking operations to focus on the higher returns it makes from its retail banking operations.

The reclusive investor made a fleeting appearance at the AGM himself in which he admitted defeat in advance, but he told journalists that many shareholders agreed with his position that the investment banking part of the business was performing poorly.

However, he said the investors had been persuaded by the new chairman Nigel Higgins to give him time to turn that around.

'Not Champions League material'

Barclays is the last home grown investment bank trying to compete with American giants like JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs. Barclays' CEO is a former JP Morgan investment banker himself and is adamant that the UK needs a presence in the top division of global banks who do wholesale and retail banking.

Outgoing chairman John McFarlane admitted in his farewell speech that the investment bank was not Champions League material. Some, including Bramson, would say that it's languishing in the second division despite throwing a lot of shareholders' money at it.

Bramson may have his tail between his legs tonight but he is not leaving. Selling up now would see him realise a loss of hundreds of millions of pounds on a stake he borrowed over a billion pounds to buy.

Barclays has struggled to make the investment bank earn enough to justify the capital required to run it and if that persists, Bramson may win round others to his cause.

Nevertheless. At half time, it's very much Barclays 1, Bramson 0.

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