Barclays PLC at a Glance

The Buzz

  • "Strong but worrying outlook"
  • "Public perception damaged"

About 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 136,000 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). 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 is known as a powerhouse in the fixed income marketplace. Formerly known as Barclays Capital, 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, the unit's relationship with Barclays Bank PLC allowed it to grow at an astonishing rate.

The main clients of Barclays' investment banking 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.

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 was born in 1986, 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. Bob Diamond,  Barclays Capital's chief executive at the time (he later became Barclays PLC CEO but was pushed out of the firm amid a Libor-fixing scandal), confirmed the joy when announcing the Lehman deal, stating, "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Barclays."

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: Antony P. Jenkins
  • 2014 Employees: 139,600

Major Office Locations

  • London, United Kingdom

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