City & Business: Barclays rides storm

Click to follow
The Independent Online
When Barclays announced 10 days ago that it was flogging part of BZW, the cry went up that the last best hope of British merchant banking was being destroyed. Now the dust has settled a bit, it is clear that the normally sure-footed Barclays chief, Martin Taylor, has made a mess of the sale.

Nevertheless, the instant wisdom on Barclays and Mr Taylor has been too harsh. The picture Nick Gilbert paints on the facing page of Bob Diamond, chief of the new, reduced BZW, is of a formidable banker with as many arguments for what Barclays is doing as the critics have put forward against what is happening.

In shape and size after shedding BZW's stock trading and M&A businesses, for example, Barclays will look like Citicorp and other US commercial banking giants. If people are not chastising John Reed of Citibank for failing to get into the global investment banking game, why should they chastise Mr Taylor for getting out of a chunk of it? Mr Taylor has handled the BZW revamp clumsily. But it is better to be clumsy and right than elegant and wrong.