With 35 years experience at the investment bank Lazards, Agius is well used to operating at the top levels of international commerce. He claims to have no problems smoothing out boardroom tensions between the big egos at the top of companies such as Barclays, where there are said to be some tough characters battling it out. He says he is well used to such personalities at Lazards and would not wish it any other way.
The fact that he is not an expert on retail banking does not bother him, as he sees his role as one of managing the board. However, he is not ignorant of the business and was one of the forces behind the merger of Halifax and Bank of Scotland into HBOS. On mergers, an area of expertise, Agius likes to quote the current Barclays chief executive John Varley: "'M&A should be the servant of strategy rather than the master.' That's a brilliant way of putting it."
In his early career he worked for Vickers engineering group, where he won a scholarship to Cambridge and then to Harvard Business School. His wife is the daughter of Edmund de Rothschild, a former chairman of the London base of the family bank.
He is passionate about gardening and is interested in art. He loves a big deal and was involved in some of the biggest: Guinness and Grand Metropolitan; and Granada and Carlton that created ITV. He is respected for having high standards and principles in business.
The widespread respect he commands was underscored by the fact that he remained chairman of BAA after it was taken over, even though he had led a firm defence against the successful Spanish bidder Ferrovial. Whilst he is often seen as the stereotype of an English City gent, he claims to be able to get on with everyone and sees himself more as an 'internationalist'.
Source: I know how to deal with strong personalities
The Sunday Telegraph, 3 September 2006
Review by Morice Mendoza