The Business on John Varley, Chief executive, Barclays Bank

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The Independent Online

I thought that rich American bloke ran Barclays these days?

You mean Bob Diamond, the bank's famously well-paid president. He has indeed been given the top job, but isn't due to move into the plush office until the end of March.



So is he just keeping the seat warm?

Well, there's still the odd decision to be made – the trademark braces have not been retired to the cupboard just yet. But Mr Varley has begun the inevitable round ofvaledictory interviews, looking back – pretty favourably, naturally – on his time at the bank.



Any revelations?

In a manner of speaking. Mr Varley has been telling the world how pleased he is about the Basel III reforms, which will substantially increase the amount of capital that banks have to hold. Among banking bosses – even if they don't say so publicly – that puts him in a minority of roughly one.



How brave of him to speak out.

Indeed – Mr Diamond is presumably not too impressed, especially as his area, investment banking, gets very tough treatment under the Basel reforms, and the two men have got to work together for another few months yet.



So what next for Mr Varley?

Good question. More cynical folk are wondering whether this outbreak of goodwill towards the regulatory authorities might be a subtle hint that the Barclays executive quite fancies a move into public service – a role at the Bank of England, say, or maybe even in government.



Does he have any other options?

He would certainly be eminently well qualified for any number of non-executive directorships, with a plum chairmanship a possibility should one arise. Alternatively,perhaps the sporting arena might supply his next employment. Mr Varley is a mean table tennis player, so perhaps some sort of Olympic support role for our ping pong team? Or he could just spend more time cheering on Arsenal (Mr Diamond, naturally, is a Chelsea fan).

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