Barclays has reshuffled its highest ranks as the internal contest to succeed chief executive jes staley gathers pace, naming two of his top lieutenants to senior roles overseeing the investment bank.

On wednesday the british lender named taalib shaah its new chief risk officer after the incumbent cs venkatakrishnan, known as venkat was made global head of markets, overseeing barclays trading operations, according to a separate internal memo seen by the financial times.

Meanwhile paul compton was promoted to global head of banking, managing the other half of the investment bank, which includes m&a advisory and capital markets.

Mr venkatakrishnan and mr compton, both former colleagues of mr staley at jpmorgan in new york, are now on a par as co-presidents of barclays bank the unit that houses the groups non-uk consumer operations. this sets them up in direct competition in the contest to succeed mr staley, who is preparing to step down in the next few years.

Australian-born mr compton, who joined barclays as chief operating officer in 2016, was seen as the leading internal candidate to succeed mr staley when he was given more responsibilities after the former investment bank chief, tim throsby, was fired in march 2019. mr venkatakrishnans elevation on wednesday appears to level the playing field, people familiar with the matter said.

In march, the financial times reported that barclays was preparing to start the search for a new chief executive after mr staley, 63, said privately he expects to leave the group by the end of 2021. however, he may now opt to stay on longer to guide the bank through the coronavirus crisis, a person close to him said.

Mr staleys controversial championing of the investment bank has been the most closely watched strategic decision of his five-year tenure. it put him at odds with activist investor edward bramson, who started building a stake in barclays in spring 2018, and has subsequently agitated for the trading unit to be dramatically shrunk and for mr staley to step down.

Recently, mr staley received a boost for his strategy as a surge in earnings from the trading arm of the investment bank helped offset billions in covid-related loan-loss provisions at the retail and credit-card arms.

An insider said the promotions were designed for both men to prove their mettle in revenue-generating roles over the next few years. it is shaping up to be one of the bleakest periods for european banking since the financial crisis, as lenders wrestle with the fallout from the coronavirus crisis and the growing dominance of wall street in global investment banking.

Mr venkatakrishnan and mr compton are being officially charged with driving stronger collaboration across the corporate and investment bank, the memo said, essentially cross-selling more financial products to barclays roster of international clients.

To make way for the new pairs elevation, stephen daintons role has been downgraded to deputy head of markets and joe mcgrath, who was named global head of banking last year, is being moved to chairman of investment banking. he will continue to oversee asset allocation and chair the client conflict committee of the division, according to the memo.

Mr staley said in the memo on wednesday: these changes i am making to remits on the executive committee...are designed to develop what is an already exceptional senior leadership team...as well as adding to the experience of the individuals taking on these new opportunities.