Can Barclays Capital become Goldman Sachs?

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Barclays Capital may not be the new Goldman Sachs just yet, but it would like to be one day soon. In a presentation yesterday, it unveiled its new purpose in life: to, "Be the premier global investment bank."

As Alphaville points out, BarCap's swelling confidence follows a Bob Diamond love-in in the British press. Last Saturday, The Times identified it as one of a "super league" of banks which has done well out of the crisis. And the Financial Times sugested that in the absence of Barclays Global Investors, Barclays Capital will be more important to the group; it's expected to generate as much as 60% of Barclays' revenues in future.

However, BarCap has quite a long way to go before it starts rattling Goldman's cage. Its US equities and investment banking revenues rose 5 and 9.2 times respectively between the Q108 and Q109, but as the graph below from Credit Suisse shows, it's starting from a very low base.

BarCap  revenues

Source: Credit Suisse

BarCap intends to remedy this by hiring lots of people. As noted last month, it's already hired 450 people into its Asian and European cash equities business and wants to ingest another 300. According to yesterday's presentation it will be recruiting 'A players' and subjecting them to a 'rigorous hiring process' (rumoured to include a jerk screening policy).

BarCap may well succeed. Its share price is up around 88% this year, more than any other bank. But it's also worth bearing in mind that it's been hiring avidly for a while and that, outside sales and trading, doesn't have much to show for it. Dealogic data provided to Credit Suisse shows BarCap's share of ECM/DCM, M&A and loans revenues fell from 5.1 to 3.9% between 2004 and YTD 2009.

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