Barclays lines up Sir Michael Rake to 'heal reputation'


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The Independent Online

Barclays is lining up inside candidate Sir Michael Rake for the job of repairing the scandal-hit bank's reputation, reports said today.

It is understood Barclays is poised to approach regulators for clearance to appoint Sir Michael as replacement for outgoing chairman Marcus Agius, who offered his resignation in the wake of the Libor fixing scandal.

Sir Michael, who was promoted from senior independent director to deputy chairman amid the rate-rigging furore, is believed to be sounding out Barclays investors about becoming chairman.

He is already said to have told shareholders he is ready to step down from the boards of airline easyJet and BT to secure the chairmanship.

Speculation is also mounting over who will replace former Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond after his resignation last week.

Front-runners are said to include former JP Morgan co-chief executive Bill Winters, who was a member of the Independent Commission on Banking that drew up plans to reform the UK banking sector.

Mr Agius has agreed to remain with the bank until Mr Diamond's successor is found.

But Barclays is thought to be hoping for a quick change of chairman to restore confidence after receiving a mauling since news broke of the bank's £290 million settlement with US and UK regulators as part of a global investigation into Libor fixing.

It would also give the bank breathing space to search for Mr Diamond's replacement.

Headhunters Spencer Stuart are understood to be working with the bank to conduct the search for a new chief executive.

Another leading external contender is thought to be Richard Meddings, finance director of emerging market focused bank Standard Chartered.

Mr Meddings reportedly advised the Labour Government on the bank bailouts at the height of the financial crisis.

Bookmaker Paddy Power said it had suspended bets on the next chief executive after a sudden flood of money on Barclays' joint head of corporate and investment banking Rich Ricci.

An outsider until today, Paddy Power said his odds were slashed to 1/4.

Mr Agius was the first executive to quit when the scandal emerged earlier this month, but his resignation was not enough to prevent Mr Diamond from being forced out.

In an appearance in front of MPs earlier this week, Mr Agius revealed that Bank of England boss Sir Mervyn King told him Mr Diamond no longer had the support of his regulators before he quit.

Barclays non-executive director Sir John Sunderland is leading the search for a replacement to Mr Agius, while Sir Michael has been tasked with carrying out a "root and branch" review of the bank's business practices following the rate-rigging scandal.

Sir Michael was appointed to the Barclays board in January 2008.

City expert David Buik from BGC Partners said Sir Michael was a "highly respected member of the financial and business community".

He added: "His credentials are impeccable, though I do wonder whether politicians and the public would prefer a new broom."

Barclays declined to comment on its boardroom succession plans.