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Barclays to bolster Asian i-bank in blow to activist investor Bramson

Barclays PLC plans to strengthen its investment banking and global banking businesses, particularly in Asia, as it seeks alternative markets due to competition in the U.S. and an economic slump in Europe, executives told Reuters.

This represents another blow to activist investor Edward Bramson, who wants a scaled-back investment banking operation, claiming the bank cannot compete with U.S. peers. Bramson had aimed to clinch a seat on the group's board, but to no avail.

The group intends to become Europe's premier investment bank and eventually re-enter the Asian market with new hires over the next two or three years, according to the May 30 report.

"Our commitment to the capital markets platform has meant we may be pulling away from the pack of European competitors now," said CEO Jes Staley.

The bank wants to increase its headcount for its Asian markets business by 10% to 11% over the next two years, head of global markets Stephen Dainton said, adding that the region could contribute to 15% to 20% of group revenues in the medium term, from 10% at present.

Joe McGrath, global banking head, also said his division could hire as many as 200 new staff in two or three years, depending on deal flow and profitability in the U.K. and U.S.