Barclays hires Citigroup chief on £11m package

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The Independent Online

John Varley, the chief executive of Barclays, entrenched his position yesterday with the surprise appointment of the fourth man to lead its struggling retail bank in less than two years.

Frederik "Frits" Seegers, lured from the US financial services giant Citigroup, is guaranteed a pay and bonus package worth £10.8m in his first year in the new post of chief executive of global retail and commercial banking.

The two men he, in effect, replaces - Gary Hoffman and David Roberts - were considered among Mr Varley's four serious rivals for the top job two years ago and both headed retail banking for only a short time.

Banking experts said Mr Hoffman, the chairman of UK banking and of Barclaycard, has in effect been sidelined. He becomes vice-chairman, responsible for equality and diversity, and corporate responsibility, among other things.

Mr Roberts, who succeeded Mr Varley as head of retail banking before running Barclays' international retail and commercial operations, will leave the bank later this year.

News of his departure comes barely six months after Roger Davis, another former head of retail banking and rival to Mr Varley for the top job, was squeezed out in the midst of his turnaround plan.

Of the four internal contenders for the chief executive position alongside Mr Varley in 2004, only Bob Diamond continues to flourish at Barclays. He heads Barclays Capital, its booming investment bank.

Simon Maughan, a senior analyst at Blue Oak Capital, said: "We always knew there was political infighting going on at Barclays, despite the presentation of a unified front to the outside world. Of the five candidates previously mooted for chief executive, three have been moved sideways or out since John Varley won control."

In February, Barclays delivered record pre-tax profits of almost £5.3bn. Retail banking had improved, but some within the City were still disappointed. Bad debt on credit cards jumped.

Mr Varley signalled his intention to address the bank's poor performance in mortgages.

Deanna Oppenheimer, an American retail banking expert, has been brought in partly to revive mortgage lending. She will report to Mr Seegers, who takes a seat on Barclays' board. He will lead Barclays' expansion through Africa and across Europe, particularly in Spain and Italy.

David Williams, a banking analyst at Morgan Stanley, said the appointment chimed with Barclays' plans to grow the proportion of its earnings from overseas.

Mr Seegers, a 47-year-old Dutchman, is the son of a former chief executive of the electronics group Philips. Last year, he married the daughter of Indonesia's first president in a ceremony in Amsterdam.

In a 17-year career with Citigroup, the world's biggest financial services company, he rose to chief executive of its global retail group.

In a difficult market, Barclays' shares fell 16p to 600.5p.

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