Barclays Finance Director Lucas, Chief Counsel to Retire

Barclays Plc Finance Director Chris Lucas, who is under investigation by the U.K.’s Financial Services Authority, will retire after a successor is found, as a series of fines and probes beleaguer Britain’s second-largest lender by assets.

General Counsel Mark Harding will also retire, the London-based company said in a statement yesterday. Lucas, 52, has been Barclays’s finance director for almost six years. His retirement is unrelated to regulatory investigations, said John McGuinness, a Barclays spokesman.

Lucas was one of four past and present Barclays employees being investigated by the FSA about whether the bank adequately disclosed fees it agreed to pay to the Qatar Investment Authority when it sought to raise money from investors including the sovereign-wealth fund. His departure follows that of the company’s three top executives who stepped down last year after the bank was fined 290 million pounds ($455 million) for manipulating the Libor benchmark interest rate, with Antony Jenkins, 51, taking charge as chief executive officer in August.

After the departures of CEO Bob Diamond, Marcus Agius as chairman and Jerry del Missier as chief operating officer, “this is a complete clearing of the stables, and it will be interesting to see who they hire,” said Christopher Wheeler, a London-based analyst at Mediobanca SpA who rates Barclays outperform. “Will it be someone squeaky clean, or someone punchy who will develop the business?”

Shares Fall

The shares fell 2.5 percent to 292.60 pence at 3:04 p.m. in London. Barclays has climbed about 26 percent in the past year, compared with a 10.5 percent gain in the Bloomberg European Banks and Financial Services Index, giving it a market value of 36.1 billion pounds.

Lucas’s retirement leaves investment banking head Rich Ricci as one of the last members of the old management team as Jenkins seeks to revamp the bank. The CEO is scheduled to update investors on Barclays’s strategy Feb. 12. The new plan will take five to 10 years to execute, and Lucas and Harding want to hand over their roles to individuals who potentially will stay for that entire period, Barclays said.

“Chris and Mark both expressed to me late last year that they were considering stepping down,” Jenkins said in the statement. “The rationale which each shared with me was consistent and, typically, grounded in wanting to do what is best for the bank.”

Libor Trial

Lucas was one of the Barclays employees whose bid to prevent their names from being published before a trial into Libor-manipulation was rejected by Judge Julian Flaux in London last month. He is also under investigation in a separate probe into payments made to Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.

Separately, the Financial Times last week reported that regulators are examining allegations that Barclays loaned money to be used for purchases of the bank’s own shares at the depths of the 2008 financial crisis.

Lucas and Harding will remain in their positions until successors are appointed, the bank said. Citing the seniority of the two roles, that process is likely to take “considerable time” to complete, it said. Harding has been the bank’s general counsel since 2003.

When a successor for Lucas is found, there is a possibility of him or her “kitchen sinking” and writing down assets, said Cormac Leech, a banking analyst at Liberum Capital Ltd. in London who rates Barclays a hold.

“What is interesting is not that Chris Lucas and Mark Harding are retiring after six and 10 years of service, respectively,” Sandy Chen, an analyst at Cenkos Securities Plc in London with a sale recommendation on shares, wrote in a note to clients today. “It’s the joint timing. It’s hard for us not to link this with last Friday’s press about the FSA and SFO investigations into possible, illegal, loan to the Qataris.”