Spotlight – Barclays blanked

Barclays finance director Oliver Stocken faces an unexpectedly turbulent agm tomorrow in the wake of the resignation of newly appointed chief executive Michael O’Neill.

The bank was devastated by the news that American O’Neill, ex-chief financial officer and president of the Bank of America, was quitting due to ill health before he had done a day’s work. He was due to start in his post at the end of March.

Before the shock announcement last week, 57-year-old Stocken had committed himself to staying on beyond his agreed retirement date of 23 April. He now expects to stay for about four months.

‘I was originally going to move at the end of 1998, but agreed to stay on until the agm in order to take people through the results,’ Stocken explained.

‘It would be totally inappropriate for me to leave now. But I am slightly disappointed to have to put off some of the things I was hoping to do next.’

Since he joined Barclays Merchant Bank in 1979, Stocken has held a number of senior positions in BZW before joining the board in 1993 as finance director. He is also a non-executive director of property company MEPC, glass manufacturer Pilkington and leisure to hotels group Rank.

By delaying his departure, Stocken has been tasked with maintaining continuity in the face of the turmoil which has hit the board. Analysts had already expected him to remain until a successor was found.

But Stocken does not expect to remain in the post after 1999’s interim results are published on 5 August. He also has plans to take on more non-executive director roles, which he said would be announced in May.

Barclays is also facing a possible revolt by institutional shareholders looking to see off an apparent move to promote a bank insider to fill the chief executive seat.

Sir Peter Middleton will become acting chief executive until a replacement is found.

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