Barclays names Currie as chief operating officer in management reshuffle

By Lawrence White

LONDON (Reuters) -Barclays said it had appointed Alistair Currie as chief operating officer on Wednesday, replacing Mark Ashton-Rigby, in a management reshuffle by Chief Executive C.S. Venkatakrishnan.

Currie had headed the lender’s consumer banking and payments business, and will be replaced in that role by Vim Maru, who joins from Lloyds Banking Group.

The move elevates an executive from the bank’s consumer business to one of its most powerful roles, at an inflection point in the long-running debate over resource allocation between that business and Barclays’ glitzier but riskier investment bank.

Venkatakrishnan said on Nov. 29 the investment bank “may shrink relative to the rest of Barclays” over time, a change in tone from the full-throated support of the investment bank that was the hallmark of previous CEO Jes Staley.

The resources poured into the investment bank as against the more staid retail and commercial banking units has split Barclays investors, with one activist unsuccessfully pushing for the investment bank to be pared back.

Staley’s argument that the investment bank provided “counter-cyclical” benefits by doing well in tough markets has been vindicated in recent years but the unit’s record was blighted by an error this year after it sold more securities than allowed in the United States, leading to fines.

The changes also come at a time when Barclays’ executive committee of senior managers has taken on increased prominence in the running of the bank, while Venkatakrishnan is treated for cancer.

The CEO, known inside the British bank as Venkat, said last month he would undergo 12-16 weeks of treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma but that his prognosis was good.

In addition to being chief operating officer, Currie will run BX, the bank’s name for the operation that provides technology and other support services to all parts of Barclays.

Currie was born in Scotland, grew up in Hong Kong and worked at HSBC for 18 years before joining Australian lender ANZ to work on its digital transformation, according to information on Barclays’ website. He joined Barclays in 2017.

(Reporting by Lawrence White; Editing by Jason Neely and Edmund Blair)