FACTBOX: Key facts about Barclays

LONDON (Reuters) - Barclays is in talks with Lehman Brothers to buy its core U.S. broker-dealer business, people familiar with the matter said.

Barclays was involved in frantic talks over the weekend to rescue Lehman, and the resumption of talks reflects its ambition to bulk up its business on Wall Street.

Here are some key facts on the country’s third biggest bank:

-- Barclays has over 4,750 branches, including more than 3,000 outside Britain in 50 countries. It employs 147,000 people and has 42 million customers. About 43 percent of last year’s 7 billion pound profit came from overseas. Its market value is 28 billion pounds.

-- The London-headquartered bank has six divisions: UK banking; Barclaycard credit card business; international, including Absa in South Africa; Barclays Capital (BarCap) investment bank; Barclays Global Investors fund management; and Barclays Wealth.

-- Its origins date back to 1690 as a business helping monarchs and merchants fund ventures around the world. Several family firms were later combined and the Quaker founders chose the name Barclay because it came first alphabetically among the list of directors after a big amalgamation in 1896.

-- More acquisitions followed and by 1918 Barclays was one of the “big five” banks. It acquired Martins Bank in 1969.

-- Barclays’ international expansion began in earnest in 1925 when it merged three banks in Africa, the Middle East and the West Indies.

-- It has never made a transformational acquisition, but in 2000 bought UK lender Woolwich for 5.3 billion pounds. It bought a majority stake in Absa for $5.5 billion (3 billion pounds) in 2005, two years after buying Spain’s Banco Zaragozano for 1.1 billion euros (874 million pounds).

-- Barclaycard was the first credit card 42 years ago. It has 11.9 million UK customers and 8.8 million international cards in issue.

-- John Varley, 52, has been chief executive for four years. Married into one of Barclays’ founding families, the keen table tennis player is renowned for his attention to detail.

His second in command is Bob Diamond, 57, president of the group and head of BarCap. The American has built BarCap into one of the top debt houses over the past decade. Last year he received pay and shares worth 21 million pounds, eclipsing Varley’s pay of 4.2 million pounds.

Marcus Agius has been chairman since the start of 2007, and was an experienced dealmaker at Lazard.

-- Barclays has sponsored English football’s premier league since 2001 and has a number of other sports links, including sponsoring U.S. golfer Phil Mickelson.

The new home of U.S. basketball’s New Jersey Nets in Brooklyn, New York, will be The Barclays Center. When the UK bank announced the sponsorship, worth about $15 million a year, it raised expectations it was seeking a U.S. deal.


Reuters Breakingviews is the world's leading source of agenda-setting financial insight. As the Reuters brand for financial commentary, we dissect the big business and economic stories as they break around the world every day. A global team of about 30 correspondents in New York, London, Hong Kong and other major cities provides expert analysis in real time.

Sign up for a free trial of our full service at and follow us on Twitter @Breakingviews and at All opinions expressed are those of the authors.