Barclays to pick up 120 new staff

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The UK bank, which specialises in debt markets and treasury products, is keen to step up its push into international markets as well as consolidate its position in its home market.

Barclays Capital's management believe that they can hire talent from houses going through mergers, such as Credit Suisse First Boston and JPMorgan.

Naguib Kheraj, Barclays' head of investment banking, said: 'The last few years have been about setting a strategic course. We have a machine that works well, which is a reflection of three things - the evolution of our competence in the credit product, the development of distribution and the focus on origination.

'We have progressed especially well in distribution, but the area we have lagged a little in is origination.'

Speaking about his hiring intentions across investment banking, Kheraj said: 'If we hire less than 80 bankers this year, I will be disappointed. If the number is more than 120, I will be surprised. Of that, half will be juniors and half senior bankers. They will be a spread across Europe, the US and Asia.

Late last year, Kheraj carried out a study comparing the cost base at Barclays Capital against other European and US investment banks. The study showed Barclays to have a low ratio of costs to revenue compared to its competitors. Barclays Capital's managers believe that they have to spend money now to grow the bank and be able to compete better in the international markets.

They would also like to see the investment bank make more of a contribution to the whole of Barclays' business. Last week's annual results showed Barclays Capital's profits up 30% to 403m (€633m), which represents just 11% of the whole bank.

Top of Kheraj's wish-list are people capable of sealing lucrative relationships with top corporates across Europe. 'In terms of industry group we will be looking to hire most in financial institutions,' he said.

Some of the hires will be in credit research. Elliot Asarnow, who joined the bank last July as global head of research, is building that team and last week made three hires, including Fred Taylor.

Barclays Capital also sees scope to grow in its home market by winning more business from UK mid-market corporates that use the lending services of Barclays Bank.

Barclays Capital's image as a place to work has improved radically since its creation in 1997, when few believed in its strategy to focus on debt and credit markets, with no equities or mergers and acquisitions businesses.

'Since Matt Barrett took over Barclays Bank, confidence in the investment banking business seems to have been rejuvenated, and it appears that Bob Diamond, head of Barclays Capital, has a mandate to push the bank forward,' said one headhunter specialising in the debt markets.

'But when we talk to people about moving there, they still question its international capabilities and they have paid over the odds on recent hires,' the headhunter said.

Barclays would respond to the question marks against its international credentials by pointing out its recent successes in international capital markets.

This year it is one of the top five bookrunners of all international bonds (according to Capital Data), beating the likes of ABN Amro and UBS Warburg.

It is winning mandates from top borrowers such as FHLB, the US agency and GMAC, the financing arm of General Motors, as well as being one of the bookrunners on BT's jumbo issue last month.

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