Sir Mike Rake is to step down as deputy chairman of Barclays this year to become chairman of Worldpay, the payments processing company, having last week orchestrated the sacking of the bank’s chief executive.
His departure comes after Barclays said he was the main instigator behind the ousting of Antony Jenkins and the appointment of chairman John McFarlane as interim CEO.
Investors and corporate governance experts said they were concerned that his exit could leave the Barclays board without sufficient checks on Mr McFarlane after he takes full charge as executive chairman this week.
“It does not look like it is steady state at Barclays right now,” said George Dallas, policy director of the International Corporate Governance Network. “The chairman becoming executive chairman raises a question mark. It is not your traditional succession process and Sir Mike’s departure certainly is the sort of thing that raises yellow flags.”
Mr McFarlane, who only took over as chairman in May, has been dubbed “Mack the Knife” for his habit of ousting chief executives — at Barclays and two years earlier at the insurer Aviva.
However, Sir Mike was never a fan of Mr Jenkins and was unhappy at how he aggressively cut back the investment bank. He preferred Bob Diamond, the American investment banker who was unseated by the Libor rate-rigging scandal and replaced by Mr Jenkins in 2012.
Insiders at the bank say Sir Mike played a key role as senior independent director in accelerating Mr Jenkins’ departure by rallying other non-executives to move against him.
An investor said: “The timing is unfortunate from Barclays point of view in terms of the elevation of John McFarlane to executive chairman and as at Aviva it is important to have strong checks and balances in place.”
A full-time replacement for Mr Jenkins is not expected to arrive until the first half of next year. Worldpay, which is planning an initial public offering, said Sir Mike would join it on September 1.
Barclays plans to look internally and externally for his replacement as senior independent director, though it may not replace him as deputy chairman. Among the bank’s non-executives, the candidates to replace him include Tim Breedon, former chief executive of insurer Legal & General, and Crawford Gillies, chairman of consultants Control Risks.
Mr McFarlane will take full charge of the bank on Friday, when he steps down as chairman of First Group, the bus and train operator. Barclays said Sir Mike would stay until at least the end of the year. But he needs regulators’ approval to hold the extra non-executive position.
Sir Mike twice unsuccessfully put himself forward as a candidate to be Barclays chairman, both when Sir David Walker was appointed in 2012 and when he was replaced this year.
He will take over at Worldpay from John Allan, who recently became chairman of retailer Tesco and also chairs housebuilder Barratt Developments. Mr Allan will stay on the board.
A heavyweight City grandee, Sir Mike is also chairman of telecoms operator BT, a director of McGraw Hill Financial, owner of the Standard & Poor’s rating agency, and chairman of Majid Al Futtaim, the Dubai-based retail and leisure group.
An accountant at KPMG for much of his career, he was previously chairman of easyJet, and this week stepped down as president of the industry lobby group CBI. He remains a member of prime minister David Cameron’s Business Advisory Group.
The European Commission’s CRD4 rules limit the number of non-executive directorships a bank’s board member can hold to four and require them to get special approval from the financial regulator to hold five.