Shareholders set for mass vote against Barclays chief's deal

 

Barclays faces a massive protest vote against its chief executive Bob Diamond's £17m pay and bonus package today, despite revealing much stronger-than-expected first quarter profits yesterday.

Somewhere between a quarter and a third of shareholders are expected to vote against the bank's remuneration report at the annual meeting, according to City sources.

At the upper end that would be one of the largest shareholder revolts since 2003, when just over half of GlaxoSmithKline investors rejected its directors' pay package.

A large protest vote would signal that Barclays failed to placate investors last week when it made half of Mr Diamond's and finance director Chris Lucas' annual bonuses subject to more testing targets.

The remuneration committee chair Alison Carnwath and the Barclays' chairman, Marcus Agius, are both likely to receive significant votes against their re-elections.

While only too happy to talk about Chelsea's European Champions League victory over Barcelona, Mr Diamond refused to comment on what might happen at today's meeting when he presented Barclays' first-quarter results yesterday.

Instead he emphasised the forecast-beating 22 per cent rise in headline profits to £2.44bn.

He said: "I feel pretty good. The first quarter was much more like the first half of 2011."

The big boost to profits came from its investment bank, the former Barclays Capital. Its profit of £1.27bn was down only 5 per cent on a year ago and net income was almost double that of the final quarter of 2011 when financial markets almost shut down during the eurozone crisis.

Mr Diamond said: "We made good gains in market share in fixed income, currency and commodities trading."

Barclays' profits were struck before it took a further £300m charge on top of the £1bn it set aside last year for mis-selling payment protection insurance. There has been a surge in claims recently and Mr Diamond said it was still impossible to predict the final cost.

UK retail banking profits jumped 16 per cent while Barclaycard's rose by 18 per cent as both businesses saw sharp drops in bad debts. Even the loss-making European retail business improved. After losing £125m in the fourth quarter it lost only £43m in the past three months.

Return on equity bounced back from 6.5 per cent in 2011 to just above 12 per cent, but Mr Diamond said: "I don't want to bank the whole of 2012 on one quarter."

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