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Friday, May 21, 1999 Published at 07:56 GMT 08:56 UK


Business: The Company File

6,000 bank jobs go



Barclays' boss has blamed global tranformation of the financial sector, including the spread of telephone and Internet banking, for the loss of 6,000 jobs.


BBC News' Richard Griffiths: Massive change sweeping banking industry
Most of the posts will go in its retail financial services and corporate banking business.

The cuts represent about 10% of Barclays workforce in these divisions.

Barclays chairman and chief executive Sir Peter Middleton said: "The financial services industry is undergoing a rapid transformation brought on by technology, regulatory change, globalisation and the proliferation of service providers."

Barclays employs 55,000 workers in UK retail financial services and 10,500 in corporate banking.

An insurance call centre in Croydon, south London, will also close with the loss of 60 staff, but the rest of the jobs will be shed across the UK.

Barclays' shares rose 68p, or 3.8%, on the back of the news and reached 1883p by 1220.

'Sad' Sir Peter


BBC Industry Correspondent Stephen Evans: "There has been a view in the city that Barclays is ripe for takeover"
Sir Peter Middleton said: "On a personal level this sort of announcement is very sad. These are loyal employees."

He said generous pay packages had been negotiated with unions representing staff.


[ image: The Internet: Changing the face of British banking]
The Internet: Changing the face of British banking
Sir Peter said there would be no branch closures, adding that less than 5% of the staff going worked at the bank's counters, dealing with customers.

The move comes in the wake of a revolution in UK banking.

More people are handling their finances through telephone banking and the Internet, and many are turning towards newer, cheaper providers who do not have branch networks.

Savings

Barclays reckons it can make £200m in annual savings from the job losses.


[ image: Mike O'Neill: Trouble at the top of Barclays]
Mike O'Neill: Trouble at the top of Barclays
It said it will work closely with the union UNIFI to "ensure the best possible transition for all affected staff".

The union is also angry that the stock exchange was told about the changes before most bank staff, who learned of the cuts from television, radio and Internet news services.

Union spokesman Jim Lowe said it was hoped the matter would be raised in the House of Commons later on Thursday.

Troubled times

The move follows a period of turmoil at Barclays, Britain's third biggest bank by stock market value behind HSBC and Lloyds TSB.


The BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones reports on the revolution that has changed the high street banks over the last decade
Profits for 1998 fell 20% after heavy losses from investments made in developing economies by its Barclays Capital investment bank.

This was followed by the shock resignation of its chief executive, Martin Taylor, last November.

A high calibre replacement was found in the form of ex-US marine Michael O'Neill, but he resigned on health grounds before doing a day's work.

Sir Peter, now acting as chief executive while a replacement is found, said the hunt for a new chief executive was progressing "reasonably".

The catalogue of problems has fuelled speculation that the bank is ripe for a merger or takeover.

Possible partners, including Royal Bank of Scotland, Prudential, Abbey National and Halifax, have been touted by City analysts.



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