Saturday 21 October 2017

Barclays suffers $1.6 billion first-half loss from Africa sale

Barclays suffers $1.6 billion first-half loss from Africa sale
(Reuters (Eng) 07/28/17)
Barclays suffers $1.6 billion first-half loss from Africa sale

Barclays reported a 1.2 billion pound ($1.57 billion)attributable first half loss on Friday after taking a 2.5 billion pound hit from the sale of its Africa business and calling an end to its restructuring.

The British bank said it had made a 1.4 billion pound loss on the sale of 33 percent of Barclays Africa Group, and took a further 1.1 billion pound impairment charge on the sale.

Barclays in June cut its stake in Barclays Africa Group to 15 percent, ending more than 90 years as a major presence in the continent as it shifts its focus back to Britain and the United States.

The losses from the sale of unwanted assets including the Africa business showed the costs of the bank's restructuring under Chief Executive Jes Staley, who has championed Barclays' investment banking business as a means of boosting revenues.

The bank completed the run-down of its non-core division of other assets earmarked for sale to below its goal of 25 billion pounds worth of assets, meaning the remainder can be folded back in to Barclays.

"Accomplishing both of these milestones marks an end to the restructuring of the Barclays Group, and brings forward the date when our shareholders can benefit from the full earnings power of this business," Staley said in a statement.

Staley announced a new long-term goal for Barclays of a greater than 10 percent return on equity, without giving a timetable for reaching that.

The bank's return on equity excluding the Africa loss and conduct charges was 8 percent at the end of the first half.

Barclays shares fell 1.3 percent by 0700 GMT.

The sale of the Africa unit boosted the bank's core capital ratio, a key measure of financial strength and a source of concern for Barclays in recent years, to 13.1 percent.

Barclays posted a half-year profit before tax of 2.3 billion pounds compared with 2 billion pounds for the same period a year ago, before the impact of the Africa sale was included.

That was worse than the 2.7 billion pounds average estimate of analysts' forecasts compiled by the bank.

Weak Trading

In Barclays' investment bank, revenue at the markets division fell 5 pct in the first half to 2.6 billion pounds, as low volatility caused a 20 pct fall in earnings at its macro trading business. That was offset by a stronger showing in credit trading where revenue was up 18 pct, while its equities performance was flat compared with a year ago.

The mixed trading performance followed that of Barclays' U.S. rivals, which earlier this month saw profits slump amid low volatility levels in markets that have left investors struggling to make directional bets.

Since taking over in December 2015, Staley has scaled back the bank's geographic footprint and emphasized investment banking, although his efforts have been clouded by U.S. and British investigations.

The former JPMorgan banker has faced investor criticism following his attempts to unmask a whistleblower, which Barclays insiders fear could unseat him if the findings of inquiries are damning.

Barclays faces other regulatory obstacles, with an ongoing probe by Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) into its 2008 cash call at the height of the financial crisis and allegations by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) over mortgage mis-selling.

The bank also took a higher than expected 700 million pound charge for mis-selling payment protection insurance, in what is Britain's costliest consumer banking scandal.

Lawrence White and Andrew MacAskill

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