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A History of Barclays Investment Bank

A Barclays sign outside one of the bank's branches in London, Britain, February 23, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth/File Photo.

Springing out of the financial services in the eighties, Barclays’ investment arm has become one of the world’s biggest players in global investment.  

Barclay’s Investment bank is one of the largest investment banks in the world. From its HQ in London, it provides advisory, financing and risk management services to government entities, large companies and institutions from around the world.

It currently has offices in 29 countries and employs more than 20,000 people and is a primary dealer in US Treasury Securities and other European government bonds. Over the years it’s evolved through several different brandings, starting with Barclays de Zoete Wedd before becoming Barclays Capital and finally in 2012 shifting to the more simpler branding of just 'Barclays'.  

Early days

The bank traces its origins to 1985 when Barclays decided to cash in on the surging demand for UK financial services. It merged Barclays Merchant Bank with a UK stockbroker de Zoete & Bevan and Wedd Durlacher to create Barclays de Zoete Wedd (BZW).

In 1998 the equity and corporate finance divisions were sold to Credit Suisse First Boston with the remaining business focusing on fixed income and structured markets. The bank rebranded to become Barclays Capital. 

Enter Bob Diamond

In 1996, Anglo American Banker Bob Diamond became head of the investment banking division. He went on to be appointed Chief Executive of Barclays in 2010 and led the bank’s efforts to purchase key assets of the collapsed Lehman Brothers after its bankruptcy in 2008. The purchase helped to strengthen Barclay Capital’s foothold in the investment banking sector. 

However, the fallout from the credit crunch of 2008 would see him become one of the most controversial figures in the city.

Troubles started in 2013 with revelations that the bank was generating a large portion of its income through so called double dip tax scams, which effectively ripped off both the American and British taxpayers.

Barclays and an American bank would issue a loan and set up a subsidiary to handle the transaction. It would pay tax on the income, but the scam element would come when Barclays and their American partner would claim the same full tax credit amount with their respective tax authorities in the UK and US. 

The revelation caused anger in parliament and lead to Diamond being labelled the ‘unacceptable face of banking’ by Labour’s Peter Mandelson. It’s a tag which was to follow him around.  

In mid-March 2012, the trading name of Barclays Capital was changed to simply Barclays and the name of the division was changed to Barclays Investment Bank. The change was part of a plan to align all of its units under one brand with Barclays Wealth and Barclays Corporate also changing their branding to come under the single Barclays umbrella. 

That same year, though, would come to be dominated by the bank’s involvement with the libor scandal. It was also found to have lied to boost profits but also to make it appear more successful than it was. 

Diamond was said to have been sickened by the revelations, but even so he faced calls for his dismissal. He resigned in 2012. He was replaced as CEO of Barclays by Anthony Jenkins who had been head of retail and business banking. 

In 2020 the group announced Alex Lynch as chairman of Banking. He works out of New York and reports to Global Head of Banking Joe McGrath. He serves as one of two chairmen in banking reporting to McGrath. 


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