Barclays' high-flying finance director quits - with no job to go to

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The Independent Online

Barclays' high-flying finance director, Naguib Kheraj, unexpectedly quit the company yesterday, claiming he had never seen his ascendancy to the role of finance chief as a long-term career option.

Mr Kheraj, 42, has been with Britain's third largest bank for nine years, and finance director for three years. In a statement, he said he had enjoyed working with the group, but had decided "now is the right time to move on to the next stage of my career".

He will be replaced by Chris Lucas, the global head of banking at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Mr Lucas was also the chief liaison between PwC and Barclays between 1999 and 2004, giving him extensive first-hand experience of working within the company.

Mr Lucas will not join the firm until 1 April. His former relationship with the bank prohibits him joining before the 2006 results have been signed off.

Mr Kheraj has agreed to stay on into the second half of next year to ensure an orderly handover to his successor. He will be responsible for preparing and signing off the group's 2006 accounts.

The new finance director is to receive a basic salary of £600,000, as well as a guaranteed £450,000 bonus and £150,000 share package for the nine months he will work in 2007. He will also receive a further £500,000 share award when he joins the company.

John Varley, the chief executive of Barclays, said of Mr Kheraj's departure: "I am very sorry Naguib is leaving us. He has made an outstanding contribution to Barclays and has been a great partner to me in my role as group CEO. I would have been delighted for Naguib to stay with Barclays for all his career but I respect his decision to broaden his career experience. We have a well-defined and clear transition plan."

He added: "I am delighted to welcome Chris Lucas to Barclays. Chris has worked with us for many years, is a renowned global expert on financial services and knows Barclays intimately. He will make a great contribution to the business."

Analysts at Keefe Bruyette & Woods said Mr Kheraj's departure followed a pattern of top UK executives deciding there is "more to life than running a bank".

Mr Kheraj saidhe did not have a new job to go to, but would probably look for opportunities in investment banking, private equity or asset management. He added that he had not been hankering after Mr Varley's job.

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