Barclays CEO Says Investors Still Support Him After Mistake

(Bloomberg) -- Barclays Plc Chief Executive Officer Jes Staley said he still has the support of shareholders and his board and never offered to quit as he faces probes for trying to unmask a whistle-blower.

“The full board of the bank did its review and voted unanimously to support me as CEO of Barclays. All the color I’m getting from shareholders is quite positive,” Staley, 60, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television Friday. Asked by journalists on a subsequent conference call if he had ever offered his resignation, Staley said he hadn’t, and declined to comment on whether Barclays has a succession plan if he is forced out by regulators.

Barclays’s board publicly reprimanded the CEO this month after discovering he’d tried to identify a whistle-blower, continuing even after he was told it was inappropriate. Institutional Shareholder Services Inc., a proxy adviser, said this week that investors shouldn’t endorse Staley’s re-election to the London-based bank’s board while regulators investigate his behavior.

The whistle-blower had raised concerns in an anonymous letter about the hiring of a top banker last year. That banker was Tim Main, a former colleague of Staley’s at JPMorgan Chase & Co., people familiar with the matter said.

“I was trying to protect a vulnerable colleague,” Staley said. “I made a mistake.”

The Bank of England’s Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority will take several months to probe the incident, and the consequences could range from a verbal warning to Staley losing his status as an approved person and therefore his ability to run the bank. The events are also under scrutiny by the Department of Financial Services in New York and the U.S. Department of Justice, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Staley, who may have to forfeit his entire 1.3 million-pound ($1.7 million) 2016 bonus over the incident, will face shareholders on May 10 at the lender’s annual general meeting in London. Barclays also released first-quarter results today, with the shares sliding on a surprise drop in trading revenue, even as pretax profit more than doubled.

The scandal is a setback for the former co-head of JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s investment bank. He made completing a “cultural transformation” at Barclays the centerpiece of his tenure after numerous high-profile misconduct charges wiped out more than 20 billion pounds of earnings over six years.

“I work at the pleasure of shareholders and the board, and the board has been very supportive, so let’s see,” Staley said on Bloomberg TV. “The culture and conduct and character of this bank is deeply, deeply important to me. We’ve made a lot of progress, but it’s a long journey and we are going to continue to push forward that agenda.”