Barclays Faces Shareholder Backlash on Banker Bonus Boost
Barclays faces shareholder backlash over bankers' bonusesReuters

Barclays faces a strong shareholder backlash after the group boosted bonuses, despite a drop in profits and a spate of mis-selling scandals which have already cost the bank billions of pounds in compensation payouts.

Barclays' CEO Antony Jenkins said last month that he was under pressure to increase staff bonuses and incentive rewards to £2.38bn (€2.9bn, $3.9bn) for 2013, from £2.17bn in 2012, after 10% of its senior director workforce jumped ship.

Investment banker payouts rose by 13% year-on-year to £1.57bn, despite income within this unit falling by 9% to £10.7bn.

Overall, Barclays' adjusted profit before tax for 2013 stands at £5.2bn and statutory profit before tax of £2.9bn. The adjusted profit before tax number for 2013 falls below the £5.4bn analysts' forecast.

In July last year, Barclays called on investors for help to fill a £12.8bn capital black hole.

Following news of the bonus increase, Barclays' 17th biggest shareholder, Fidelity, publicly declared that the lender had landed itself in a "public relations mess".

Meanwhile, one of the bank's institutional shareholders revealed that it was severely "unhappy" with the decision.

"Shareholders have been long-suffering, while employees sail on unscathed," the shareholder told Reuters.

"They will trot out the same arguments again, about how if they don't pay up they will lose key staff. This is a bluff that has never yet been called."

Barclays holds its annual general meeting on 24 April.

'Death spiral'

In February, Jenkins revealed that he had to raise bonuses to stop people leaving the bank.

"We were faced with a very difficult decision for me personally as chief executive and for the board because we are absolutely committed to driving the level of compensation down in the investment bank," said Jenkins.

In the US, around 700 investment bankers are believed to have left Barclays.

Jenkins warned that in the event of a flight of top talent "people are less attracted to come to you, both clients and employees.

"You get into something of a death spiral. Your brand deteriorates and you can move very quickly from being a first tier player to one in the second or third tier if you don't protect the franchise.

"I understand completely the sentiment from shareholders and broader society that it feels unreasonable, but if we are going to be a world-class investment bank then we have to deal with the compensation structure as best we can."

Jenkins waived his annual bonus.