May 28, 2005

An American Executive Paycheck in London

Robert E. Diamond Jr. is Britain's 15 million man.

Mr. Diamond, a 53-year-old American investment banker, was named president of Barclays yesterday and appointed to its board. His compensation this year - up to $28 million - may prompt analysts and shareholders to bristle against what they see as a trend toward American-style pay packages.

There had been speculation for years regarding Mr. Diamond's compensation. Since 1996, he has been running Barclay Capital, the bank's investment banking operation, after holding high-level positions at Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse First Boston. What was new yesterday was not his pay but the requirement that it be disclosed.

British executives have traditionally not been paid the very large amounts given to some American chief executives, and some shareholders have been vocal in demanding that such pay not be allowed.

In 2003, for example, about a fifth of the shares in HSBC, another London-based bank, were voted against the pay package for the bank's chairman. That was not because he was deemed overpaid but because he had signed off on a three-year contract worth up to $36 million for William F. Aldinger, who had also received a $20.3 million payout after HSBC bought Household Finance, the American company Mr. Aldinger led.

At the time, the top five HSBC executives and 19 directors were paid a total of $14.6 million. The bank explained that because Mr. Aldinger was an American he deserved to be paid in line with American pay levels.

In an interview yesterday, Mr. Diamond said that the varying levels of compensation at Barclays had not been a problem and that he did not think it would become one.

"I don't think there is a lot of jealousy now," he said, adding that when he joined Barclays the company had understood that to build up an investment banking business it was necessary to pay well for outstanding performance.

"I think if people were not performing and still being compensated," he said, "that would be a problem."

In Britain, as in the United States, publicly held companies are required to disclose the pay of top executives and board members, but not of employees below those levels- even if they are paid far more than their superiors. Investment banks in both countries have sometimes been careful to avoid giving highly paid bankers and traders top jobs, thereby avoiding the need for disclosure.

The disclosure of Mr. Diamond's compensation indicated that his annual stock grant had been greater than the total compensation of Barclay's chief executives in recent years. It showed that investment bankers continue to be paid far more than commercial bankers, even when they are part of the same company.

Mr. Diamond's current contract calls for him to be paid as much as 15.25 million, or $28.1 million, in 2005, depending on whether he qualifies for full bonuses.

By contrast, the total compensation of the six executives whose 2004 pay was disclosed by Barclays - including Matthew W. Barrett, the chairman who stepped down as chief executive during the year, and John S. Varley, who became chief executive then - was 10.4 million. That is roughly two-thirds of what Mr. Diamond alone could get this year.

The best paid of the top six at Barclays in 2004, Mr. Barrett, took home 2.83 million, or less than a fifth of what Mr. Diamond could get. Mr. Varley was paid 2.07 million.

Mr. Diamond will continue to run the bank's investment banking, asset management and private banking businesses. He said his appointment as president "signals we have strong intentions to grow, particularly outside" Britain.

Barclays Capital grew by concentrating on debt businesses in Britain and Continental Europe before expanding to the United States. Mr. Diamond said that so far this year it ranked No. 4 in the United States in underwriting investment-grade corporate bonds, although he said it was unlikely to hold that ranking.

Barclays Capital's pretax profit grew by 25 percent, to 1.04 billion, in 2004. Barclays said on Thursday that the outlook for profit growth at the investment bank was strong.

Barclays did not disclose what Mr. Diamond was paid in the past. But in the time he has been with the bank he has accumulated 51 million worth of stock in the company; 10 million of that came from appreciation, the bank said.

That indicates he was granted 41 million worth over the period, which would indicate his average annual stock grant, on top of whatever he was paid in cash, was greater than what the chief executive of the entire company was being paid.

Depending on how profitable the investment bank is for the next two years, Mr. Diamond could earn even more. Barclays said he "retains an opportunity to be considered for an award in February 2008 of up to a maximum value of 14.85 million."


 


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