Marcus Agius could hardly have presided over a more tumultuous period during his near six-year term as chairman of Barclays – both for the bank and for the broader industry.
After weathering a series of mis-selling scandals, regulatory failures and damaging revelations over tax and bonus payments, Mr Agius stepped down on Monday amid mounting anger about Barclays’ role in the price-fixing of interbank lending rates.
While Mr Agius was not under pressure from shareholders to step down over this particular issue, he had repeatedly come under fire from investors during his tenure as chairman.
Shortly after he arrived at Barclays he raised £7bn of emergency funding from the Middle East, saving the bank from a potential government bailout but irking existing shareholders who felt he had failed to protect their position.
Earlier this year Mr Agius was forced to defend the bank to investors, angered by his decision to approve a £25m pay package for the chief executive Bob Diamond – including a £5.75m tax payment – in a year in which returns at the bank fell well short of its target. He fought off pressure to resign at that point, vowing to improve relations with shareholders ahead of next year’s meeting.
People who know Mr Agius well say that throughout his time at the bank he acted with integrity, determined to clean up the mistakes made by Barclays – and the banking industry – in the run-up to the crisis.
Mr Agius started his banking career at Lazard, where he spent more than 30 years, rising through the ranks to deputy chairman. He joined Barclays as a non-executive director in September 2006, before taking over as chairman a few months later.
Since 2010 he held the role of chairman of the British Bankers’ Association – a post he also gave up on Monday. He is the senior independent director of the BBC and chairman of the trustees of The Royal Botanic Gardens. He was chairman of BAA, the airports operator, before joining Barclays.