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Investment banker Staley to become Barclays boss: reports

[LONDON] Troubled British bank Barclays is set to announce former JP Morgan banker James Staley as its new chief executive, indicating a renewed focus on its investment division, British press reports said Tuesday.

Barclays' board has approved the 58-year-old American's appointment and a formal announcement will be made in the next two weeks, according to media outlets including the BBC and the Financial Times.

However, the bank later issued a statement saying that the process of appointing a new chief "has not yet concluded and Barclays will provide a further update once that is complete." Staley, also known as Jes, is the former chief executive of JP Morgan's Investment Bank and currently works for US hedge fund Blue Mountain Capital Management.

The bank's shares had fallen 2.2 per cent by Tuesday afternoon as the reports emerged.

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Barclays, plagued by the forex and Libor rigging scandals, announced in July that it had fired chief executive Antony Jenkins.

Jenkins replaced Bob Diamond in July 2012 - who himself was forced to resign after the damaging Libor rate-fixing scandal.

The retail banking veteran had vowed to bring a new culture of decency to Barclays, and oversaw drastic restructuring that shrank its investment bank, a move that reportedly upset major shareholders.

John McFarlane, the bank's chairman, said this week that European investment banks should consider merging to create a regional powerhouse, indicating a shift away from the retail sector.

The bank is currently in the middle of a three-year plan to cut 19,000 jobs, including 7,000 in the investment bank, and it still faces potential legal suits.

Despite the blows, the bank increased net profits by 43 per cent to £1.611 billion (US$2.512 billion) in the first half as cost-cutting and higher revenue offset provisions for settling scandals.

In May, Barclays was hit with a US$2.4-billion fine by US and UK regulators for manipulation of foreign exchange trading. Five other global banks have been fined over the affair.

Back in 2012, the bank was fined £290 million by British and US regulators for attempted manipulation of Libor and Euribor interbank rates between 2005 and 2009.

Staley's appointment will first have to be approved by British regulators.