Overview: now you see him…

Chris Lucas, Barclays’ former auditor when he was at PwC, took over at the
weekend as the bank’s CFO. But the bank is in the midst of merger talks with ABN
Amro, the Dutch bank. So how long will he last?

What’s happened?

Lucas took the reins of Barclays’ finance function on 1 April. The job, on
the face of it, looks like one of the best in business, with the departing CFO,
Naguib Kheraj, picking up £2.5m for his efforts in 2006.
But scratch below the surface, and there will be some anxieties playing on
Lucas’ mind.

Kheraj left saying he didn’t like being an FD. ‘I don’t want to be a finance
director again any time soon,’ he told reporters. The grind of regulation,
particularly heavy in the banking sector, had taken its toll.

Lucas will have that to contend with, but there is also the small matter of
the merger with ABN.

Barclays’ exclusive talks with ABN are set to expire in the next fortnight,
by which point a deal may or may not have been struck. Lucas will only just have
got his feet under the desk, and may wonder whether they will stay there for
much longer.

What’s going to happen?

Short of knowing the details of the ABN deal, it is difficult to say. One
concession Barclays is thought to have made is that the headquarters are set to
be in Holland.

What other concessions might be made? Would the new CFO be kept on?
ABN’s finance head is Hugh Scott-Barrett, a Brit educated at Oxford. He has been
CFO since the beginning of 2006, so can boast more experience at that level.

Barclays seems to be the leader on the deal however, and would expect to take
over ABN, depending on the terms. So Lucas, who knows Barclays inside out from
his auditing days, has that advantage.

Kheraj, oddly, is still waiting in the wings. Barclays did say when they
announced his departure that he would leave in the second half of the year, and
any suggestion that he is staying on to help with the bid is ‘speculation’, a
Barclays spokesman said.

But someone with deep and recent experience of Barclays’ finances must surely
be advising the CEO and advisers on the deal?

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