May 2, 2014 5:59 pm

Barclays head of M&A to quit ahead of shake-up

File photo dated 16/09/13 of a view of a branch of Barclays. The bank has spoken of its "regret" over a memo suggesting its branches switch their television channels to entertainment shows as news broke of the banking giant's pay and bonuses. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday March 7, 2014. The bank reportedly recommended that staff turn on E4 or lifestyle channel Really, or switch off their televisions ahead of "negative coverage" about Barclays' annual report which revealed nearly 500 staff were paid at least £1 million each last year. See PA story CITY Barclays. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire©PA

Barclays’ head of mergers and acquisitions is expected to quit, which would take to four the number of high-level bankers it has lost in the week before it unveils a strategic revamp.

Paul Parker would be the latest former Lehman Brothers banker to jump ship, according to people familiar with the bank. He is one of the world’s most senior M&A bankers and is advising Valeant on its near-$50bn bid for Allergan, the Botox maker, and Comcast’s $42bn takeover of rival cable group Time Warner Cable. Last year he advised Verizon on its $130bn purchase of Vodafone’s stake in their US venture.

One insider said Mr Parker, who was head of M&A at Lehman Brothers before its US arm was bought by Barclays in 2008, had been eased out as part of management changes to be announced next week. But his departure will add to analysts’ concern that it faces an exodus of top executives.

On Friday, Robert Morrice announced his retirement as Barclays’s Asia-Pacific chairman and chief executive after 17 years at the bank and 12 years in charge of its Asian operations.

A few hours later, Ros Stephenson quit as chairman of Barclays’ investment banking division to join UBS as global chairman of corporate client solutions at the Swiss bank. She will also also Head CCS Americas.

Their exits came only days after Skip McGee quit as head of Barclays Americas with almost immediate effect. The most senior survivor from the Lehman takeover, Mr McGee was seen as the glue holding together the bank’s US operations.

The 54-year-old Texan, who brokered Barclays’s acquisition of Lehman’s US arm, lived for the big deals and lobbied hard for his investment bankers to be paid more.

Analysts fear that other top US bankers may follow him out the door, especially as many of them are at odds with their bosses in London over pay.

Mr Parker is regarded by peers as being a level headed dealmaker with an understated manner. “He is one of a few gentlemen in the big world of M&A,” said a rival banker on being presented with the news of Mr Parker’s imminent departure. Barclays lies sixth in the global M&A league table, with $220bn of announced deals so far this year.

Barclays was criticised by shareholders and politicians for paying higher bonuses last year despite falling profits. Antony Jenkins, chief executive, defended the move by saying it risked a “death spiral” of bankers leaving in search of bigger pay cheques.

But Mr Jenkins had earlier emphasised the need to clean up the culture of Barclays, promising to lower overall pay, and said anyone who disagreed with the new ethical approach should leave.

The recent exits come ahead of a planned strategic update to investors next Thursday – two days after its first-quarter results – at which Mr Jenkins is set to announce the creation of a bad bank to hold assets that will be sold or run down.

The bad bank, which will house parts of its declining fixed-income business and its lossmaking European branch network, will be run by Eric Bommensath, co-head of its investment bank. Tom King, his fellow co-head, will run the rest of the investment bank.

Barclays said Mr Morrice’s departure had been in the works for almost a year and the 51-year-old was retiring from banking. Ms Stephenson said she was “delighted to be joining a world class organisation” and Barclays said she was leaving for a job that was “quite clearly a promotion”.

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