Barclays Plc named Amer Sajed chief executive officer of its global credit card business, promoting him from the interim-head role he’s held for almost a year.
Pakistan-born Sajed, who has run Barclaycard’s operations in both the U.S. and U.K. since joining from Citigroup Inc. in 2006, will take over immediately, according to a statement from the London-based bank. He replaces Val Soranno Keating, who left in May.
Credit cards are growing in importance for Barclays as CEO Jes Staley, 59, sells down its Africa business, reduces costs and shrinks the lender’s balance sheet amid tighter regulations. Chairman John McFarlane has pledged to invest more in Barclaycard, which delivers higher and more consistent returns than the investment and retail banks, while consuming less capital.
“Barclaycard enjoyed its most successful year in 2015, and I am confident that under Amer’s leadership the business will continue to go from strength to strength,” Staley said in the statement.
Barclaycard was the bank’s most profitable unit last year, reporting an 18 percent return on equity and the lowest cost-income ratio of Barclays four divisions. Pretax profit at the business jumped 22 percent to 1.6 billion pounds ($2.3 billion) in 2015, accounting for about a quarter of the company’s total profit.
Barclays shares rose 1.5 percent to 170.15 pence at 12:41 p.m. in London, paring the decline this year to 22 percent. Staley announced March 1 the dividend would be halved for the next two years. The bank reports first-quarter results on April 27 and is holding its annual general meeting for shareholders the following day in London.
Sajed, 55, was born in Lahore and got his MBA from New York University, according to a spokeswoman for Barclays. Before joining the British bank, he worked at Citigroup for two decades in a number of roles including in the credit card division. During his five years in charge of U.S. Barclaycard he doubled the volume of the business, which is now a top-10 credit card company in the country, the profile shows.
Sajed’s initial task will be to oversee a structural change. Barclaycard is being split into U.K. and international units this year as the bank seeks to comply with a new British law that aims to insulate retail operations from investment bank losses, known as ringfencing. Barclays says it has 11 million British card customers with more than 30 million worldwide, and issued the first U.K. credit card in 1966.
Sajed, who was awarded shares worth about 398,532 pounds on March 15, says his first job was cleaning toilets for McDonald’s Corp., according to an interview on Barclaycard’s website.
“I learned that getting up at 3 a.m. wasn’t easy, and that all jobs deserve respect,” Sajed said.