An ode to Bob, a diamond cut right down to size

Bob Diamond has had to agree, just in the act of quitting, to take a £20-million cut in his pay. (Reuters)

Bob Diamond has had to agree, just in the act of quitting, to take a £20-million cut in his pay. (Reuters)

I would not want to be the miserable current incarnation with impaired earnings capability since he announced he was quitting as chief executive.

He has had to agree, just in the act of quitting, to take a £20-million cut in his pay. He gets to limp out with a £2-million payoff. This is an emasculated version of the Bob I want to be.
I want to be the Bob who took home £120-million, according to shareholder consultancy Manifest, since 2005 when he became a director at Barclays. I like this. Bear in mind that Bob held the top job, chief executive, only long enough to produce one full year of results.

Being my type of guy, he was the highest-paid chief executive in the United Kingdom last year. Nobody told Bob anything. He did the telling.

We learned this week in the columns of the Financial Times that Bob’s previous boss and chief executive, Martin Taylor, had some difficulty reining him in while Bob headed up Barclays Capital.

Bob wanted to trade developing economy bonds and applied to increase credit limits five-fold. A committee chaired by Taylor cut the request in half, but the bank under Bob “the sky’s the limit” Diamond blasted through the limit by falsely marking some Russian counterparties as Swiss or American, according to Taylor. This is what you would want, wouldn’t you? Big salary, big risk, no rules. Then Russia defaulted and the traders were fired. Bob said he knew nothing of the breach and that he loved Barclays. He was kept on.

The board wanted the rules tightened. Taylor wanted to separate the trading and retail and commercial banking operations of the bank. Taylor left. My man Bob ascended to his rightful place as top dog.

When news that Barclays would pay a fine of £290-million for fiddling the Libor, did Bob quit even though he had been head of Barclays Capital during the fiddling period? No. Chairperson Marcus Agius said he would go instead.

In the end, with suggestions that Bob was implicating the Bank of England in the scandal, potentially threatening the entire financial system, he was forced out, we hear, at the insistence of Bank of England  governor Mervyn King. At this point I would want to stop being Bob.

Kevin Davie

Kevin Davie

Kevin Davie is M&G's business editor. A journalist for more than 30 years, he has worked in senior positions at most major titles in the country. Davie is a Nieman Fellow (1995-1996) and cyberspace innovator, having co-founded SA's first online-only news portal, Woza, and the first online stockbroking operation. He is a lecturer at Wits Journalism. In his spare time he can be found riding a bicycle, usually somewhere remote. Read more from Kevin Davie

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