LONDON — Tom King, one of Citigroup Inc.'s top executives in Europe, is leaving the U.S. banking giant after 20 years there and will likely take a senior position at Barclays PLC's investment bank, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr. King, 48, is Citigroup's London-based head of corporate and investment banking and capital markets for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In the new role he is expected to take at Barclays, Mr. King would help the U.K. bank build its investment-banking franchise in Europe, the people said, cautioning that it isn't yet certain he will join Barclays.

For Citi, Mr. King's departure is the latest in a string of defections it has suffered in its investment-banking ranks on both sides of the Atlantic. Morale at the U.S. banking giant has ebbed as a result of the financial crisis.

Citi was forced to sell a 34% stake to the U.S., which the government still holds even as rivals like Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. have repaid their bailout funds from the government. Citi is working on a plan to lower the government's stake in the bank.

Meanwhile, Barclays, which was able to resist government aid, is seeking to capitalize on its relative strength. It secured a strong investment-banking platform in the U.S. when it bought part of bankrupt Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., and now it is trying to erect a comparable platform outside the U.S. Barclays has hired aggressively from weakened rivals and plans to add several hundred more investment bankers, many of them in Europe and Asia.

Spokespeople for Citigroup and Barclays declined to comment.

Mr. King started with Salomon Brothers, which would later become a Citi unit, in 1989. A former global head of mergers and acquisitions at the bank, he moved to London in 2000 following Citi's purchase of Schroders PLC's investment-banking arm.

Citi had became a top-tier performer in investment banking in Europe before the credit crisis hit, with strong franchises in areas including stock underwriting and M&A. It ranked fifth in stock underwriting in the Europe region last year before the Lehman bankruptcy, and third in advising on mergers with a European component, according to Thomson Reuters data. Even though it has slipped a bit in the rankings this year, Citi continues to win major investment-banking assignments. It recently became Vodafone Group PLC's corporate broker and won a role advising Kraft Foods Inc. on its takeover offer for Cadbury PLC.

Barclays, by contrast, has not been a top-ten player in those businesses in Europe.

Amid the uncertainty at Citi, underscored by a stock trading below $5 per share, other investment bankers in London have departed, including Ian Hart, who was co-head of European M&A and left for Morgan Stanley, and Julian Vickers, an energy banker who went to Barclays. In the U.S., recent departures include consumer banker Larry Portman and retail banker Bora Sila, who went to NM Rothschild & Sons Ltd. and UBS AG, respectively.

Still, Citi has made scores of hires this year in sales and trading.

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