Even more bizarrely, Bramson is pushing for Barclays to try to emulate Deutsche Bank of all places. The German financial powerhouse may have had some success with trimming back its own investment banking operations but it has been a desperately long time in coming.
Deutsche was forever the sick dog of European banking, another embarrassment to the German establishment to sit alongside corporate calamities like Volkswagen, Lufthansa, and in the last few months, Wirecard.
A modest share price rise of 12pc this year does not mean that Deutsche has suddenly been transformed. Nor does it magically erase a catalogue of damaging misdemeanours. As veteran fund manager Richard Buxton puts it: “Deutsche is not a role model in any way shape or form”.
Although there is some truth in Bramson’s argument that Barclays can never truly compete with JP Morgan, boss Jes Staley would probably retort that it doesn’t need to. With the rest of Europe giving up on investment banking, there may be room for Barclays to earn a respectable crust alongside the big beasts of Wall Street.
Staley has a simple thesis when it comes to the investment bank: its value is demonstrated best during times of economic uncertainty, alleviating the slowdown in other parts of the bank such as mortgage and credit card lending. That hasn’t always been the case but the American will be cock-a-hoop that it has risen to the challenge at a moment like this. Why should he listen to Bramson again now?
Sherborne has actually upped its stake recently but after a fruitless two-year campaign, it is time to accept defeat. Bramson should do what other activists like ValueAct and Elliott have done after unconvincing campaigns at Rolls Royce and Hammerson respectively – sell down quietly and move on. There are plenty of better targets out there.