Barclays is a UK-based financial services group and has a large international presence in Europe, the US, Africa and Asia. It is engaged primarily in banking, investment banking and investment management. In terms of market capitalisation, Barclays is one of the largest financial services companies in the world. It has been operating for more than 300 years and now has 27 million customers and 123,000 employees in over 50 countries.

As we go to press, Barclays is engaged in talks to acquire Dutch bank ABN Amro, paving the way for what could be Europe’s biggest financial services sector merger creating a behemoth with a market value of £89 billion. Chief executive John Varley says a combination with ABN would put Barclays in markets where it does not operate and increase access in regions where it has a limited presence. He points to ABN’s three million retail customers in Asia, including 1.5 million in India, and also talks about Brazil, US, The Netherlands, Italy and elsewhere across mainland Europe. “The fit with our strategy is very good,” he says.
ABN is currently in the throes of reducing its IT capacity and announced redundancies of hundreds of IT jobs last October in a bid to rationalise its organisation and improve efficiency after poor third quarter results. The bank had already signed a £1.23bn outsourcing deal with Accenture, IBM, Infosys, Patni and Tata Consultancy Services in September 2005.

As ABN reviews its IT function, Barclays is also looking at its own IT systems as part of a wider review of operations and is standardising its infrastructure and platforms, following a rationalisation of its contracts with suppliers last year.

Both banks are heavy SAP users. ABN extended its use of SAP to cover client account information management last October and Barclays has a single SAP transactional platform across its business.
In November 2006, Barclays extended a contract with Siemens Business Services in a multi-million pound agreement to continue its business process outsourcing contract until 2008. Siemens manages certain areas of Barclays’ retail banking back office, including account closures, transfers and administrative processing for direct debit and standing orders.