Barclays' Americas wealth management head steps down

Barclays Plc's head of wealth and investment management in the Americas has stepped down, the British bank said on Friday.

Mitch Cox, who had overseen the division since October 2009, has decided to leave London-based Barclays to "pursue interests outside the firm," the company said in a statement.

Cox reported to Thomas Kalaris, chief executive of the bank's global wealth and investment management business, and was based at Barclays' Park Avenue offices in Manhattan. Kalaris, who also serves as an executive chairman of Barclays Americas, will run the Americas wealth unit until the company selects a replacement for Cox.

Kalaris last year moved to New York from London to beef up management of the Americas unit.

The departure of Cox, effective Friday, comes a year after an independent report criticized an aggressive management culture at its U.S. wealth management arm.

Cox, a former Merrill Lynch veteran, was hired to build a wealth franchise out of the small retail brokerage business Barclays inherited when it purchased the now defunct Lehman Brothers' banking and trading businesses in late 2008.

Under Cox, Barclays had been bulking up its wealth management presence in the United States, aggressively hiring veteran advisers from rival firms. The unit currently has 14 offices, including its trust company office.

(Reporting by Ashley Lau in New York, editing by G Crosse)