Banking: Profits down at Barclays as investment arm earnings fall by 49%

Antony Jenkins, chief executive of Barclays Antony Jenkins, chief executive of Barclays

Tuesday, May 6, 2014
8:48 AM

Barclays today posted a 5% fall in profits for the first three months of the year as earnings from its investment bank slumped by half.

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Adjusted pre-tax profits fell to £1.69bn, with the bank having warned last month that it would be hit by the performance of the division.

The investment bank, which faces a shake-up likely to costs hundreds of jobs when Barclays announces a strategy review on Thursday, saw pre-tax profits fall by 49% to £668m.

It was driven by a “significant decline” of 41% in income from its fixed income, credit and commodities business as well as changes to the business.

Barclays chairman Sir David Walker has hinted at a shrinking of the investment banking arm following a controversial rise in its bonus pool last year despite declining profits at the group.

It has also been reported that the group is to create a “bad bank” or non-core unit as it seeks to exit parts of its fixed-income business and loss-making European branch network.

Chief executive Antony Jenkins said the first quarter had seen strong performance from its retail, cards and business banking arms, while a programme of cost reduction had driven underlying operating expenses to the lowest level since 2009.

He said this week’s review “will address issues underlying the performance challenges we have recently experienced, including positioning the investment bank for the new operating and regulatory environment”.

The group said it remained “cautious about the trading environment” adding: “We remain focused on structurally reducing the cost base in order to improve returns.”

There were no new provisions for compensating customers who were mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI), a scandal that has hit businesses across the sector in recent years.

Barclays said its pot of money set aside for redress stood at £689m after it used up £282m in the first quarter, adding that overall complaint volumes fell though March saw a spike in those made via claims management companies.

The group said that as a result there was “significant uncertainty” about future levels of complaints.

Barclays said pre-tax profits at its UK retail and business banking arm rose 20% to £360m, primarily driven by income growth and lower impairment charges.

Earlier this year, Barclays announced a 32% fall in annual profits to £5.2bn and confirmed plans to cut up to 12,000 jobs this year. However, the bonus pool was raised 10% to £2.38bn

Finance director Tushar Morzaria said pay in the investment bank was down 20% year on year to £1.14bn, while bonuses “will reflect the performance” of the division.

He added that the weakness which had been seen in part of the unit in the first quarter had continued into April.

The investment bank saw 450 redundancies, as previously planned, over the period. The job losses were across Europe, Asia and America and helped push the cost of the group’s “Transform” overhaul to £149m at the division.

Mr Morzaria said he was not announcing any further redundancies but added: “We continue to reassess our footprint as the revenue environment changes.”

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