Just like Brutus, Barclays deputy chairman Sir Mike Rake appears to have fallen on his sword


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The Independent Online

When I likened the assassination of Barclays boss Antony Jenkins to the events portrayed in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar I had no idea the man I’d tagged as Brutus – Sir Mike Rake – would justify the analogy by falling on his sword quite as soon as it appears that he has.

Unofficially at least. Amid a flurry of speculation, claim and counter claim, it appears Sir Mike, the deputy chairman and senior non executive director, is likely to leave at the end of the year. He hasn’t formally resigned but he has agreed to take on the job of chairing the board at payments processing firm Worldpay from September.

That is likely to take up a considerable amount of his time given that it is currently eyeing a flotation, which should see it entering the FTSE 100, and Sir Mike will have five directorships after he joins its board, two of which are chairmanships along with his deputy’s role at Barclays.

This violates best practice from a corporate governance perspective and one has to question if even Superman would have the ability to juggle that lot effectively, let alone the 67-year-old Sir Mike. Something has to give and it appears that it will be Barclays. The bank might have talked about Sir Mike staying on beyond the end of the year in its rebuttal to the reports of his resignation but I’m told that’s unlikely.

Which leaves Barclays in something of a sticky spot. The turnover at the top has been considerable. The bank is already having to integrate new chairman John McFarlane – who played just as much of a role in Mr Jenkins’ departure as did Sir Mike and has had to temporarily assume his responsibilities as a result.

The most important task facing both men now will be to find a chief executive capable of leading the business but the events of the past few days won’t serve as much of an advertisement to external candidates with the sort of qualities the bank is looking for.

Investors, not to mention regulators, have every right to be concerned. As for Sir Mike, who enjoys a rather lofty reputation? He might at some point like to reflect on the role he has played in the instability at the top of Barclays. At least if he wants to keep that reputation intact.