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UK Finance CEO resignation: The full details on an explosive £1.6bn court case

UK Finance’s chief executive Stephen Jones has resigned after apologising for comments made in 2008 about a female financier - which emerged in an ongoing court case against Barclays.

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Stephen Jones, in a 2017 Credit Strategy interview
Stephen Jones, in a 2017 Credit Strategy interview

Jones quit after the emergence of court documents that claimed he made “deeply unpleasant personal comments” about Amanda Staveley, a financier whose firm, PCP Capital Partners, is suing Barclays for £1.6bn in losses over a funding deal.

 

The case relates to a £7bn funding deal Barclays secured from middle eastern investors in 2008 – a time when banks were seeking mergers, government bailouts and new funding during the peak of the financial crisis.

 

Through PCP Capital Partners, Staveley played a vital role in the deal, by representing a consortium that included investors from Abu Dhabi.

 

Along with several allegations against Barclays in how the bank negotiated the capital raising, there have also been allegations of sexism among its senior directors who were involved in the deal. Jones, for example, was involved as managing director of Barclays Capital for EMEA at the time.

 

"I have apologised to Ms Staveley and to my colleagues for the comments made in 2008"
Stephen Jones, UK Finance

 

As this case has progressed, documents have come to light including emails that show, according to Staveley’s legal team, that Jones made “thoroughly unpleasant comments” about her.

 

The precise content of these documents remain unknown but they’re expected to emerge when Jones appears as a witness in the case next month.

 

In his resignation statement, Jones said: “I have apologised to Ms Staveley and to my colleagues for the comments made in 2008 and feel at this time it is right I step down.

 

“I am very proud of what we have achieved since the formation of UK Finance in 2017. Our current work with the banking and finance industry, government, business and consumer groups and regulators to coordinate the provision of financial support during the Covid-19 crisis shows UK Finance at its best."

 

Bob Wigley, chairman of UK Finance, said: “Stephen has rightly acknowledged that the comments he made in 2008 were inappropriate and do not meet the standards expected of leaders in our industry. He has characteristically taken a difficult personal decision in the interest of UK Finance and the industry and we accept his decision.

 

“I and the board of UK Finance want to thank Stephen for all of his vision and hard work in building UK Finance over the last three years.”

 

The Barclays case

The case in which Jones’s comments emerged relates to a funding deal Barclays was seeking in the autumn of 2008. Funding of around £7.3bn was secured from the ruling families of Abu Dhabi and Qatar and the Qatari sovereign wealth fund.

 

PCP managed to raise more than £3bn for the deal via its consortium while the rest was provided largely by the Qatari investors. Essentially, PCP is claiming it should have received higher fees - as the Qataris were paid far more.

 

In its court action, PCP is alleging Barclays told the firm it would get "the same deal" as the Qataris, which PCP says meant it should have been paid as much, pro rata, through fees.

 

PCP is also alleging the Qataris were paid more in fees for what Barclays called “advisory services” – which PCP claims were “shams”. Barclays denies the claim.

 

Staveley, who also steered the purchase of Manchester City by Sheik Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family, is arguing on the basis of these and other allegations, that PCP is owed £1.6bn in losses.

 

Stephen Jones’s tenure and career

Now that Jones has resigned due to documents the case has thrown up, it marks the end of his tenure as the first ever chief executive of UK Finance.

 

During his time the trade body has in fact supported many diversity initiatives. One of the first actions UK Finance made as an organisation was to sign the HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter and promote its adoption across the financial services sector.

 

In an update to its own progress on the charter in September last year, UK Finance reported that female representation within its senior management stood at 37 per cent - in comparison to 30 percent when it signed up in 2017.

 

UK Finance has also recently appointed more female executives to its board, including Anne Boden, CEO at Starling Bank Limited, Ruth Leas, CEO at Investec Bank and Beatriz Martin Jimenez, UK chief executive at UBS.

 

Across his own career, Jones has spent nearly 30 years working in financial services including with Santander, Barclays, Citigroup and Schroders.

 

He was Santander UK’s chief financial officer and a member of the Santander UK board until October 2015. While working for Santander UK, he served as a member of the advisory council of CityUK, the Practitioners’ Panel of the Financial Conduct Authority.

 

Between 2002 and 2011, Jones worked at Barclays, for the final three years as head of investor relations.

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