Comment: Steady pair of hands for scandal-tossed Barclays
SIR David Walker, incoming chairman of Barclays bank, was expected to draw up a list of global candidates to replace the tarnished chief executive Bob Diamond. In the end the board opted for the devil they know, presumably hoping they had unearthed a gem.
In fairness, Antony Jenkins was also among the early contenders, but the appointment of the head of retail to the top job tells us that the bank may have learned something from recent scandals. Adventure and triumphalism are out. In comes normal and predictable.
It’s perhaps unfair to saddle the new man with lowered expectations; after all, it is incumbent on all business leaders to pursue a policy of growth and innovation, to encourage employees to be bold and imaginative. But it’s equally important to keep a sense of perspective, to understand the difference between risk and recklessness.
Jenkins has to deal with the legacy issues such as Libor-rigging and mis-selling, while rebuilding the bank’s core businesses, restoring its reputation and reviving its value.
He has promised a “transformational plan” by the first quarter of next year, by which time the markets will have got their first measure of him.
There have been questions about whether, given his various shortcomings (a lack of investment banking experience, for instance), he is truly up to the job.
But being normal may be a big help, not least among government ministers desperately keen to see closure on an era of banking excess.
Flotation can be best way to go
SCOTLAND will get its first flotation of the year on the Alternative Investment Market tomorrow, but newly-quoted companies are not replacing those leaving the market at anywhere near the same rate.
The fast-depleted quota of Scottish stock market companies could be further reduced if two of the country’s small oil firms, Xcite Energy and Bowleven, succumb to takeover as speculated.
Already this year, Scotland has lost Wiseman Dairies to takeover while Melrose Resources is forgoing its listing following its merger with Petroceltic. Dundee-based 3D Diagnostic Imaging is leaving Aim as part of a cost-cutting exercise. We almost lost Goals Soccer Centres to takeover only for the acquisition to be rejected by shareholders.
But why the fuss over listed companies? After all, some believe that the public exposure, the increased demands for reporting results and updates and the extensive governance rules make it a time-consuming, undesirable and costly process.
The benefits, though, are plentiful, including access to capital, the ability to finance deals through paper transactions and a lift in a company’s status. Because a listing requires extensive scrutiny and proof of performance it can open doors to those (customers) who see it as a badge of approval. And if the business really is any good, its value should rise as more investors buy into its shares.
Scotland has never produced more than two or three flotations a year, but it was thought the squeeze on bank debt would have prompted more companies to go down the stock market route.
Eland Oil & Gas, therefore, is an exception. Of course, its presence on the market may be short-lived if bigger players in the sector like what they see.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 3 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: West