- Barclays CEO C.S. Venkatakrishnan has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and will undergo treatment for 12 to 16 weeks at New York City’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, he wrote in a letter to the bank that was included in a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing Monday.
- “The good news is that the matter has been detected early, with scans and biopsies confirming it to be very localized,” wrote Venkatakrishnan — known to fellow bankers as Venkat. He added that doctors have called his prognosis “excellent” and the condition “curable with their prescribed regimen.”
- The bank has not appointed an interim chief executive, a Barclays spokesperson told Reuters and CNBC. “We have a highly capable and seasoned Executive Committee, supported by a talented senior management team,” Venkat wrote in his letter. “Fortunately, I have always exercised regularly and am strong and fit as I commence this treatment.”
Venkatakrishnan’s cancer diagnosis comes little more than a year after he became Barclays’ CEO. His predecessor, Jes Staley, stepped down last November amid an investigation by U.K. regulators into how he characterized his relationship with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, the late convicted sex offender, who was a client of Staley’s at JPMorgan Chase. Staley is contesting the regulators’ preliminary conclusions.
Venkat’s first year at the helm of the British bank brought its own scandal. Barclays agreed in September to pay $361 million to settle charges that it sold nearly double the amount of structured debt products that it was allowed to trade.
Venkat, who had overseen risk at Barclays before taking the top role, called the bank’s error “particularly disappointing,” and said Barclays would “try ceaselessly to improve” and avoid future mistakes, The Wall Street Journal reported in July.
Barclays has seen significant financial upside during Venkat’s tenure, however — doubling its fixed-income trading revenues in the third quarter, according to the Financial Times.
Venkat is hardly the first bank CEO to stay engaged amid a health crisis. Lloyd Blankfein continued to run Goldman Sachs while undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma in 2015. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon recovered from throat cancer in 2014 while retaining the top spot. Dimon in March 2020 underwent emergency heart surgery and handed off day-to-day oversight of the bank to now-President Daniel Pinto and now-retired Co-President Gordon Smith.
Other banks have occasionally kept CEO diagnoses close to the vest. Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman recovered from COVID-19 during the first month of the pandemic, as treatment protocol for the virus was still developing. Gorman disclosed the news in a video emailed to bank employees weeks later and was ill, it turns out, when he wrote a company wide memo pledging Morgan Stanley would not lay off any employees in 2020.
The five-year survival rate for men diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma is about 64%, according to Cancer Research UK.
Barclays “will run normally” during Venkat’s treatment, “and I will continue to be actively engaged in managing it,” he wrote. “However, I will have to work from home for some periods and not be able to travel.”
Among other appearances, Venkat had been scheduled to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January.
Below Venkat, Barclays’ most senior executive is Paul Compton, the lender’s investment-banking chief, another JPMorgan alum who joined the British bank in 2016. Rothschild veteran Nigel Higgins serves as Barclays’ chair.