An opening for Bob Diamond to become top dog on Wall Street
Wednesday 08 September 2010
Lloyd is compromised and Jamie is insufferable, so there's an opening for Bob. Among the (very) small number of Wall Street chief executives who steered their firms intact through the financial crisis, there is a competition developing for who will be seen as the industry's top dog.
Bob Diamond, who captured Lehman Brothers broker dealer business for Barclays Capital in 2008, has been styling himself as a Wall Street spokesman, and where JPMorgan Chase boss Jamie Dimon has taken a combative tone against bank bashing, Mr Diamond's has looked to mollify.
Behind the scenes, though, he has been lobbying vigorously for the industry, and his personal star has risen along with that of Barclays. With his background as an American football player at college, and an obsession with the Red Sox baseball team, he is the quintessential jock, and therefore the quintessential American banker. Colleagues say he is tough to work for – but fair, of course.
Just three or four years ago, Barclays advertised itself as the biggest/fastest growing/most dynamic Wall Street firm you had never heard of. It put its name, at great expense, on a massive new basketball stadium planned for the New Jersey Nets and on The Barclays PGA golf tournament, but this only looked like striving.
It was only when it snatched the best of Lehman out of bankruptcy that the rest of the finance world woke up to the fearlessness of Mr Diamond. Ken Lewis at Bank of America bought Merrill Lynch three days earlier, and ended up damned as reckless; Mr Diamond's deal worked out for shareholders, and that, at the end of the day, is what wins reputations.
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