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Barclays appoints Paul Compton sole head of investment bank

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Barclays has appointed Paul Compton sole head of the investment bank, the first move by new chief executive CS Venkatakrishnan to stabilise the UK lender since taking over from Jes Staley this month.

Compton, who joined Barclays in 2016 alongside Venkatakrishnan, was initially chief operating officer and last year was appointed global head of banking, overseeing the mergers and acquisitions advisory and capital markets division.

The expanded role for Compton, an Australian and former veteran of JPMorgan, means he will also manage the trading, or markets, side of the investment bank, the lender said on Tuesday, confirming an earlier report by the Financial Times.

Compton and Venkatakrishnan were once considered rivals to succeed Staley — the two were installed opposite each other in senior roles at the investment bank to “prove their mettle” in September 2020. However, Compton has decided to stay on under Venkatakrishnan after missing out on the top job.

Internally, Compton has told colleagues that he did not want to become chief executive and indicated this to the board about a year ago, according to people familiar with the matter. When announcing Venkatakrishnan’s promotion last week, Barclays said the board had identified him as the preferred candidate more than a year ago.

Last week, Staley was forced to step down as chief executive after a regulatory investigation into the way he described his relationship with disgraced financier and sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein. He intends to contest the conclusions of the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority probe.

The investment bank has been a bright spot for Barclays in the past 18 months. Earnings have surged because of volatile markets during coronavirus and a historic boom in M&A this year. This has helped offset a decline in profit from the retail and credit card operations, caused by ultra-low interest rates and spiralling reserves to cover potential loan losses.

Before Covid-19, the investment bank contributed about 35 per cent of Barclays’ earnings, before taking loan loss provisions into account. This has soared to about 70 per cent, but analysts expect this trend to reverse as trading and dealmaking slows and interest rates rise.

Venkat, as the new chief is known internally, has also shrunk the 13-strong executive committee to streamline decision-making, removing two people: consumer banker Ashok Vaswani and Stephen Dainton, a senior manager in the trading unit.

Dainton’s new role will be co-head of global markets distribution, alongside Adeel Khan, who has been appointed co-head of the trading side of the markets unit. Khan is a rising star in the investment bank who has driven an increase in earnings from credit trading when in charge of that business.

Vaswani was appointed chief digital strategy officer, a newly created role intended to improve Barclays technological competitiveness as it is increasingly challenged by big tech companies and start-ups.

Alistair Currie will succeed Vaswani as global head of consumer banking and payments. David Farrow will in turn replace Currie as interim head of corporate banking.

Despite speculation about his future, eight-year veteran finance director Tushar Morzaria is not planning to depart, people familiar with his decision told the FT, and he has retained his role on the executive committee.

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