Barclays executive quits amid talk of rift

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There were renewed signs of management division at the top of Barclays last night when the chief operating officer, Paul Idzik, unexpectedly quit.

No immediate explanation for his departure was offered, though speculation that he had resigned in frustration because of alleged tensions between John Varley, the chief executive, and Bob Diamond, head of Barclays Capital, were downplayed by sources close to the bank.

More likely is that Mr Idzik, a US citizen, felt that his role had become redundant with Fritz Seegers filling the post of chief executive of global retail and commercial banking and Deanna Oppenheimer as head of retail banking.

One source said there were "simply too many chiefs jostling for position".

Last week, Barclays defied calls from the Bank of England and the Government for banks to strengthen their capital with more equity, saying it saw no immediate need for a rights issue. Both Royal Bank of Scotland and HBOS have announced proposals for rights issues.

By contrast, Barclays believes it can rebuild cap-ital to appropriate levels through internally generated profits and balance sheet constraint.

Barclays has repeatedly had to quash rumours of a boardroom rift between Mr Varley and Mr Diamond. According to talk in the City, Mr Diamond offered his resignation on at least two occasions during the recent turmoil in credit markets.

Though Barclays has been forced to take big write-offs on mortgage-backed securities, Barclays Capital has remained profitable throughout and Mr Diamond has consistently put a positive spin on the outlook.