Seegers out as Diamond wins again in the power struggle at Barclays

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The Independent Online

Barclays' retail banking chief, Frits Seegers, is to quit the bank in the wake of a surprise shake-up of the bank's board. Mr Seegers is understood to have been unhappy with plans to remove commercial banking operations from his remit and will receive a pay off of around £700,000.

The shake-up will result in the commercial bank, which handles substantial loans to big business, being added to the empire of Barclays' president, Bob Diamond. It will form part of a new division: corporate and investment banking and wealth management. That will include investment bank Barclays Capital, commercial banking and Barclays Wealth, the private banking group.

The reorganisation will also bring about a new global retail banking business. This will be run by Antony Jenkins, who is being promoted from his role as head of the Barclaycard operation. He will join an expanded executive committee, chaired by chief executive, John Varley. His division will include Barclaycard, UK retail banking, Western European retail banking and the company's emerging markets businesses.

The shake-up comes against a background of rapid change in the way banks are regulated in the wake of the financial crisis. Regulators have increasingly been looking at how banks that are considered "too big to fail" should be run and how much capital they hold. They have suggested that ways should be found to separate straightforward retail banking operations from more complex investment banking operations. Commercial banks have been seen as fitting better with the latter.

There was speculation in the City that Barclays' organisational moves would make it easier to split the businesses more formally, depending on how the changes pan out.

Mr Seegers was appointed with great fanfare from Citigroup less than three years ago. At the time he was seen as providing a counterweight to the power of Mr Diamond, who narrowly lost out on the top job to Mr Varley. However, relations between Mr Diamond and Mr Varley have improved markedly recently and the perception of tensions between them has eased.

The shake-up is also seen as victory for Mr Jenkins, who had originally been promised a seat on the executive committee when he was hired from Citigroup but lost it as part of an earlier reorganisation. As part of the changes, several other high-flying executives have been promoted to the committee. Barclays said the intention was to bring new talent forward.

Jerry del Missier and Rich Ricci will be co-chief executives of the new corporate and investment bank, reporting to Mr Diamond, while Tom Kalaris, chief executive of Barclays Wealth, will continue to lead the wealth management business.

They will join the executive committee along with Maria Ramos, who is the chief executive of Absa, Barclays majority-owned South African bank.

Other new members of the committee include Robert LeBlanc, the head of risk, who is considered to have done an effective job keeping Barclays clear of some of the pitfalls that rivals fell into during the financial crisis. Barclays managed to avoid calling on state aid from the Government, although it did secure a substantial capital injection from Middle Eastern governments.

In addition, Mark Harding, group general counsel, and Cathy Turner, group human resources director, round up the expanded top team. Chris Lucas, the finance director, retains his place.

Mr Varley said: " I am sad that the changes result in Frits leaving the Group. Frits has had a transformational impact on our retail and commercial businesses globally. I am extremely grateful for the energy and commitment he has brought to Barclays and for the momentum he created during the last three years."

Mr Varley said the shake-up would "position Barclays strongly in an industry that is experiencing rapid change. At their heart is developing our capabilities to benefit the customers and clients of Barclays within a strong governance framework which is well attuned to the events of the last two years."

On the same day HSBC, which has also avoided a tax-payer bailout, said it planned to axe 1,700 jobs from its retail banking business in Britain. It follows Royal Bank of Scotland's announcement of 3,700 job cuts.