Barclays PLC


Big Barclays

Barclays PLC, a venerable London-based bank that dates back to 1690, provides retail and commercial banking, credit card, investment banking, wealth management and investment management services.  It has a presence in more than 50 countries worldwide, with over 48 million customers and 155,000 employees.

The bank's retail and commercial operations are provided through six main units: UK retail banking, Barclays Commercial Bank, Barclaycard, GRCB (global retail and commercial banking) emerging markets, GRCB Western Europe and Absa (the largest South Africa financial services institution in terms of customer deposits and loans as well as online banking; Barclays acquired Absa in 2005).  Its investment banking and investment management operations are provided through two main divisions: Barclays Capital (the investment banking unit) and Barclay's Wealth (its wealth management business).  Barclays Global Investors, formerly its asset management unit, was sold in June 2009 to New York-based investment manager BlackRock.

Barclay's investment banking division, Barclays Capital, is known as a powerhouse in the fixed income marketplace.  Often referred to as BarCap, it was created in 1997 to provide financing, risk management and advisory services to corporate, government and institutional clients around the world.  It also offers foreign exchange management, capital raising, and equity and interest rate services. Although it's younger than many of its peers, Barclays Capital's relationship with Barclays Bank PLC allowed it to grow at an astonishing rate: today it has offices in 29 countries and 20,000 employees.

The main clients of Barclays Capital's services are large corporate, institutional and government clients, which are offered finance, advisory and risk management solutions.  The firm has expertise in a wide variety of products and services, including bonds, commodities, convertible bonds, credit products, electronic trading, emerging markets, equity derivatives, equity origination, foreign exchange, fund-linked derivatives, fund solutions, index products, inflation-linked products, interest rate products, leveraged finance, loans, M&A, market making, municipal finance, prime services, private equity, research, restructuring, securitisation and structured investment products, among others.

Barclays Wealth has approximately £145 billion in assets under management (as of January 2009) and 7,900 employees in more than 20 countries.  The division has six main sub units: UK Private Banking, international private banking, wealth intermediaries, wealth advisory, Barclays Stockbrokers and wealth international.

Born to goldsmiths

Barclays PLC can trace its roots back to the City of London in the 17th Century, when city streets were paved with goldsmith bankers who financed colonialism by funding monarchs and merchants.  John Freame and Thomas Gould were two such goldsmiths, and set up their own firm in 1690.  In 1736, a man by the name of James Barclay married into Freame's family, laying the foundation for what would eventually become Barclays Bank.  By the beginning of the 20th century, Barclays was one of the five-biggest banks in the U.K.  In 1925, Barclays merged with the Colonial Bank, the Anglo Egyptian Bank and the National Bank of South Africa, establishing operations in the Middle East, Africa and the West Indies.  The investment banking business, Barclays Capital, was born in 1986â€"the year Argentina beat England in the quarterfinals of the World Cup.  It was also the year Barclays Bank became the first British bank to be listed on both the Tokyo and New York Stock Exchanges.

Barclays buys the Brothers
More recently, Barclays became famous for buying big in New York, agreeing to acquire Lehman Brothers' U.S. investment banking business for $2 billion in September 2008.  The deal, struck just one day after a struggling Lehman had filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, included Lehman's equity, fixed income and M&A advisory units, as well as approximately 10,000 Lehman employees.  The deal also included Lehman's trading assets, which had an estimated value of US$72 billion; liabilities worth US$68 billion dollars; Lehman's New York City headquarters; and two offices in neighbouring New Jersey, with a combined market value of US$1.5 billion.  Barclays expressed delight at the acquisition, making clear an ambition to increase its presence in the U.S.  Barclay's Capital's chief executive, Bob Diamond, confirmed the joy when announcing the Lehman deal, stating, "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Barclays."  A few months after the Lehman buy, in January 2009, Investment Dealers' Digest named Diamond its Best Banker of the Year for 2008.

Barclays PLC

1 Churchill Place
Canary Wharf
London E14 5HP
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7116 1000
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7116 7665


  • Employer Type: Public
  • Stock Symbol: BARC
  • Stock Exchange: LSE
  • Group Chief Executive: John S. Varley
  • 2009 Employees: 155,000

Major Office Locations

  • London, United Kingdom

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