UPDATE 1-Pension funds pile pressure on Barclays over governance

Wed Apr 23, 2014 8:20pm EDT

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(Adds Barclays could not be reached for comment)

LONDON, April 23 (Reuters) - A group of British public sector pension funds has heaped pressure on Barclays ahead of its annual general meeting by saying it has governance concerns over the company's search for a new chairman.

That could add even more spice to Thursday's meeting as investors are asked to approve the bank's plan to increase the staff bonus pool by 10 percent even though 2013 profits fell.

The furore that plan initially caused had already prompted the replacement of the head of its remuneration committee, John Sunderland. As a result, his role in leading the search for a new company chairman was inappropriate, the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) said on Wednesday.

"How can it be appropriate for him to lead the selection of Barclays' new Chair to replace Sir David Walker?" the LAPFF, whose 60 members collectively manage more than 120 billion pounds ($201.34 billion) in assets, said in a statement.

"There have been significant concerns expressed by LAPFF over governance and executive remuneration at Barclays for some time now. It appears that a continuing series of no votes by institutional shareholders is one of the few options open for meaningful engagement at Barclays."

Barclays could not be reached for comment outside of regular business hours.

Earlier this month Pirc, a shareholder advisory group, told investors they should oppose Barclays' bonus payouts for last year, as well as its controversial plan to make extra payments to staff.

On Tuesday British business minister Vince Cable singled out the Barclays as he warned that companies must rein in "excessive and disproportionate" executive pay or face tighter regulation. ($1 = 0.5960 British pounds) (Reporting by Simon Jessop and Jemima Kelly; additional reporting by Richa Naidu; Editing by David Goodman)

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