Barclays Has Capital, Little European Exposure: CEO

Wednesday, 24 Aug 2011 | 4:51 PM ET

Barclays is comfortable with its exposure to Europe and now has more cash on its balance sheet than before the 2008 financial crisis, CEO Robert Diamond told CNBC Wednesday.

Bob Diamond
Bob Diamond

"If you step back and look at banks in the U.S. and in the U.K., very early on the banks raised capital," said the executive of the London-based bank. Barclays has cash on the balance sheet of 140 billion to 150 billion pounds every day, he said, compared with 25 billion to 50 billion pounds at the end of 2007.

"Big banks in the U.K. and the U.S. are much safer and much sounder," he said.

He said Barclay's European exposure is through its banking, retail and mortgage business, much of it through a retail bank in Spain and Italy. Barclays has no exposure in Greece, he said.

As for Europe in general, what he wants "is to have a large sovereign debt market that has the same safety and liquidity characteristics as the U.S. Treasury market has," he added.

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Unlike German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Diamond favors a "integrated eurobond market" over the "chronic bouts of event risk around the individual [European] countries" when each issues debt separately.

"We have to move to more fiscal integration, and what I would like to see is more talk and more movement in that direction because the goal should be more liquidity [and] more safety in the sovereign debt market across Europe."

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