Barclays to confirm Cheshire as UK chairman

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Barclays will this week announce the appointment of Sir Ian Cheshire as chairman of its UK-based operations, a key milestone in its planning for new rules aimed at protecting taxpayers in a future banking crisis.

Sky News has learnt that Sir Ian’s application to chair Barclays UK has been approved by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), the banking watchdog.

An announcement will be made on Monday morning, according to people close to the lender.

As chairman of Barclays UK, Sir Ian will oversee a business comprising the group’s high street branch network in Britain, as well as its business banking and Barclaycard operations in its home market.

With roughly 22 million retail customers and almost one million business banking clients, it will be one of the largest UK-based lenders, and will be run by Ashok Vaswani, its chief executive.

Most of Barclays’ international and investment banking activities will sit within a new non-ring-fenced entity run by Tim Throsby, a former JP Morgan executive.

The two parts of the business will, in accordance with the post-crisis framework proposed by Sir John Vickers in 2011, have separate funding regimes, allowing the retail bank to continue functioning even if the non-ring-fenced lender were to become insolvent.

Confirmation of Sir Ian’s appointment will come four days after Barclays announced a rise in full-year profits alongside a modest cut in the bank’s bonus pool for staff.

Shareholders have been forced to swallow a halving of the bank’s dividend as Barclays completes a restructuring which has taken several years.

Sir Ian, the former boss of B&Q-owner Kingfisher, was identified as the preferred candidate to chair Barclays UK in the autumn of last year.

He is one of Britain’s best-known businessmen, chairing the department store chain Debenhams and acting as the Government’s lead non-executive director in Whitehall.

Some media outlets raised concerns about his appointment to lead Barclays UK because he was on the board of Bradford & Bingley, the high street mortgage lender bailed out by taxpayers during the 2008 financial crisis.

Sir Ian was a non-executive on the board of B&B for several years before a freeze in wholesale funding markets led it, like others, to fall into the arms of the state.

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