Makram Azar, one of the most senior bankers to attend the infamous Presidents Club dinner earlier this year, has retired from Barclays as its chairman of banking in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Barclays said Mr Azar had decided to retire to pursue new business opportunities and spend more time with his family after the recent birth of his son and he would return as a senior adviser to the bank early next year.
He is also stepping down as chief executive of Barclays in the Middle East and north Africa and the bank is due to announce a successor for both roles in the coming days.
A person briefed on the matter said Mr Azar’s decision was not connected to his attendance at the Presidents Club fundraising dinner in London six months ago, when young hostesses were groped and propositioned by some of the male-only guests.
There is no suggestion Mr Azar was personally involved in the mistreatment of hostesses. He sat on the top table, hosted by Bruce Ritchie, joint chairman of the charitable trust that organised the event and which has since been disbanded.
After the Financial Times reported on the Presidents Club dinner, banks were split on how seriously they would treat attendance at the controversial event. One said it would be a “firing event” to have attended, but others said it would be unfair to fire someone if they had gone as a guest of a friend or client without knowing what the event was like.
Mr Azar, who joined Barclays in 2010 after a career at KKR and Lehman Brothers, helped to secure a role for the UK bank as an adviser or financier on several large deals.
He recently advised Qatar on its record $12bn bond issue in April. Last year, he advised Cineworld on its $3.6bn acquisition of its US rival Regal Entertainment and Altice USA on the cable and telecoms group’s initial public offering.
“MENA remains an important region for the firm and Makram has helped ensure we have a strong management team in place to continue to take the business to the next level,” said Joe McGrath, global head of banking at Barclays, in a memo to staff. “We wish him and his growing family all the best and look forward to working with him again in the new year.”
Other senior advisers at Barclays in Europe include François Baroin, former French finance minister, and Franco Bernabè, former chairman and chief executive of Telecom Italia.