Barclays picks American to lead British bank

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British bank Barclays said on Tuesday it had chosen American Bob Diamond, head of its highly successful investment banking unit, to become chief executive in place of incumbent John Varley.

Barclays, the third-biggest British bank, said that Varley would step down at the end of March, 2011.

"John Varley has made an extraordinary contribution to Barclays during his long service with the group and the board is grateful to him for the tremendous progress Barclays has made during his tenure as group chief executive," Barclays chairman Marcus Agius said in a statement.

"I am delighted that Bob Diamond will be his successor. He is superbly qualified, with more than 30 years' experience in the banking sector, the last 14 of which have been with Barclays," he added.

Diamond, 59, is one of the world's highest paid bankers thanks to his success in running Barclays Capital. He was also behind Barclays' purchase of Lehman Brothers' US operations following the investment bank's collapse in 2008.

"I am honoured by the board's confidence in me and greatly motivated by the challenge of leading Barclays during the critical period ahead," Diamond said.

As chief executive, Diamond will receive an annual salary of 1.35 million pounds (1.62 million euros, 2.08 million dollars) but could earn millions more in bonuses, Barclays said.

Diamond will become deputy chief executive on October 1 ahead of replacing 54-year-old Varley, who managed to steer Barclays through the financial crisis without the aid of government support.

Varley said it had been a "great privilege" to serve as chief executive for six years.

© 2010 AFP

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