Diamond to Succeed Varley as Barclays CEO Three Months Earlier Than Slated

Barclays Plc, Britain’s third- biggest bank, said Robert Diamond will take over as chief executive officer three months earlier than planned.

Diamond, 59, will become CEO on Jan. 1, the London-based bank said in a statement today. Barclays said in September Diamond would succeed John Varley as CEO on March 31, 2011.

“We are now ready to effect the hand-over,” Chairman Marcus Agius said in the statement. “The speed with which the transition has been completed reflects the continuity in management and strategy that the succession provides.”

Massachusetts-born Diamond has led Barclays’s investment- banking expansion, including the 2008 purchase of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s U.S. operations. His Barclays Capital unit accounted for 66 percent of the lender’s pretax profit in the first half, up from half last year.

Varley, 54, will advise Barclays on regulatory matters until Sept. 30, 2011, the company said. He is the frontrunner to succeed John Bond as chairman of mobile phone operator Vodafone Group Plc, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported Dec. 6.

A Barclays spokesman declined to comment beyond the statement. The shares dropped 1.3 percent to 260 pence as of 12:09 p.m. in London.

Barclays is among U.K. banks that are being questioned by the government-sponsored Independent Commission on Banking, which is assessing whether to recommend breaking up lenders to increase financial stability and competition.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jon Menon in London at jmenon1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.net

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