Barclays fires chief executive Antony Jenkins to increase pace of change at the bank

LONDON – Barclays fired chief executive Antony Jenkins on Wednesday, concluding he wasn’t moving quickly enough to put past scandals behind the bank and increase profits.

The bank, Britain’s second largest, announced that John MacFarlane had taken over as executive chairman, fully effective July 17 when he retires from transport operator FirstGroup. A search for a permanent successor is underway.

Jenkins has been the standard-bearer of a mission to overhaul the bank’s corporate culture after a string of troubles, including a role in rigging the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, a benchmark for consumer interest rates around the world.

Jenkins became CEO in 2012, succeeding the brash American Bob Diamond, whose style came to epitomize the disdain that many held for the country’s banks following the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. Jenkins offered no apology for his three-year tenure.

“It is easy to forget just how bad things were three years ago both for our industry and even more so for us. I am very proud of the significant progress we have made since then,” he said. “Our capital position is much stronger, our business model is more balanced, we are much more disciplined on cost management, we have made good progress in rebuilding our reputation and we are seen as a leader in the application of technology to our business.”

However, Barclays PLC continued to be dogged by the sins of its past. In May, for example, it was one of four giants of global banking who agreed to pay more than $5 billion in fines to regulators and plead guilty to manipulating the global currency market.

Its shrinking investment bank was failing to deliver the profits it once engendered and critics said Jenkins had cut it back too far.

MacFarlane said it was time to offer a fresh perspective and that a new approach was required.

“As a group, if we aspire to bring shareholder returns forward, we need to be much more focused on what is attractive, what we are good at, and where we are good at it,” he said. “We therefore need to accelerate revenue, costs and capital performance. We also need to become more externally focused and deal with the internal bureaucracy by becoming leaner and more agile.”