NEWSMAKER-Patience pays as Diamond grabs top Barclays job

* BarCap boss to take over as Barclays CEO

* Avid sports fan gets job six years after missing out

* Only other American Barclays CEO lasted just one day

By Steve Slater

LONDON, Sept 7 (BestGrowthStock) – After 14 years at Barclays
(BARC.L: ) building up its investment bank into a Wall Street
power, Bob Diamond will have no fear that the last American
chief executive at the bank lasted just a day in the job.

Six years after previously missing out on the top job,
Robert E. Diamond — universally known as Bob — was on Tuesday
named as the British group’s new chief executive.
[ID:nLDE6860JY]

He will take over from John Varley at the end of March,
after a six-month handover period.

The affable and charismatic Diamond, who at 59 is five years
older than Varley, is one of Europe’s best paid bankers and a
lightning rod for criticism in Britain of the industry’s big pay
awards.

That was one reason why the Concord, Massachusetts-born son
of two teachers might be happy to have spent much of his time in
the last two years in New York instead of London.

The power base of Barclays Capital shifted to New York after
the opportunistic takeover of the U.S. operations of Lehman
Brothers two years ago. That transformed BarCap, giving it the
equities and advisory firepower for Diamond’s ambition to take
on Wall Street powerhouses such as Goldman Sachs (GS.N: ).

But Diamond will return to London as chief executive, giving
the avid sports fan and former football linebacker more
opportunities to watch London soccer team Chelsea instead of his
beloved Boston Red Sox, Celtics and New England Patriot teams.

He often draws parallels between sports and business, and
says he runs a meritocracy and rewards success, touring the
dealing room and talking to the players.

LECTURER TO BANK BOSS

Returning to London will also put Diamond back in the line
of fire over his pay.

Diamond has not taken a bonus in the last two years, but was
paid 21 million pounds in 2007 and received 26 million pounds
last year after the sale of asset management arm BGI and owns
Barclays shares worth 30 million pounds. Earlier this year the
then senior government minister Peter Mandelson branded him the
“unacceptable face” of banking.

But Diamond remains an Anglophile. After sealing the Lehman
deal, he is reported to have played “God Save the Queen” over
the tannoy of the bank’s trading floor.

He told reporters on Tuesday he was honoured to get the top
post. “The opportunity for anyone to be CEO of Barclays, with
its 300 years of history, in the environment we work in today is
tremendously motivating and challenging.”

The only other American to take the helm at Barclays was
Mike O’Neill, a little known former U.S. Marine who was named
CEO in February 1999. O’Neill’s lucrative pay packet was
criticised at the time but a health scare meant he only attended
the office for one day to unravel his contract.

Diamond has been the public face of BarCap since joining in
1996 and is credited with reviving it from the ashes of Barclays
de Zoete Wedd (BZW) soon after arriving.

He became an investment banker almost by accident, only
entering banking after two years as a lecturer in business at
the University of Connecticut.

Both his parents were teachers and he retains close links to
education through charities — his Diamond Family Foundation
supports Colby college in Maine.

After being attracted to bond trading he joined Morgan
Stanley (MS.N: ) and moved up the ranks during 13 years there.

Four years followed at Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB)
(CSGN.VX: ), which he left to join Barclays in 1996, reportedly
after a row over his 1995 bonus, to become head of BZW’s Global
Markets Division at a time when BZW was struggling to compete as
a full-service investment bank.

A year later Diamond took over at the top of Barclays
Capital, the renamed rump of BZW after the decision was taken to
dispose of its equities and mergers and acquisitions (M&A)
departments and concentrate instead on building up its debt
markets and foreign exchange business.

Initially Diamond joined BZW on a two-year contract said to
be worth at least 5 million pounds ($8 million) plus perks to
make him one of Barclays’ highest paid executives and
immediately set about building a new team with the help of a
cheque book described at the time by one market commentator as
“so large it had to be delivered via parcel post”.

Twelve years later Barclays was sufficiently confident of
Diamond’s capabilities to buy at a knock-down price the U.S.
business of Lehman Brothers, returning the group to equities and
M&A work.

That made BarCap a “top tier” investment bank, and Diamond
told Reuters on Tuesday group strategy will continue along the
path it is already on.

“You’re going to see a more balanced group but a group that
is like the Barclays of today — that’s a very well respected
global universal bank. I think the biggest challenge is around
execution, not strategy,” he said.

After missing out to Varley for the top job at Barclays in
2003 he was linked with other top bank jobs but stayed with the
British bank despite persistent media speculation that he did
not get on with Varley.

“We have a great relationship and I’m wondering what you
guys are going to do after April when you can no longer ask how
John and Bob are getting along,” Diamond said.

NEWSMAKER-Patience pays as Diamond grabs top Barclays job