Barclays' first quarter profit falls by 9%

UK bank Barclays has reported a 9% fall in pre-tax profits for the first three months of the year to £1.66bn.

The fall was largely due to a drop in profits from corporate and investment banking, which were down by 29% at £983m compared with a year ago.

The news, on the day of the bank's annual shareholder meeting, knocked shares down 5%.

However, retail and business banking profits jumped 21% to £692m, helped by a 39% fall in bad debts charges.

'Good start'

Two groups representing investors have raised concerns about the bank's bonus plans, which are due to be voted on at the gathering on Wednesday.

The bank's chief executive, Bob Diamond, is in line for basic pay of £1.35m, plus a bonus for 2010 of £6.5m.

There are other incentive payments in the package, including a future conditional share award of £6.75m and £13.8m of shares that he is owed as part of previous long-term performance plans.

Mr Diamond said of the first quarter results: "We have made a good start in 2011 a challenging external environment."

The banking sector was recently under review from the Independent Commission on Banking (ICB), whose interim report proposed ring-fencing day-to-day banking activities from investment banking.

Barclays said that the report "required detailed discussion".

The bank also said it was engaging actively with governments and international bodies on regulatory reform.

UK still 'home'

Richard Hunter, the head of UK equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, said the results highlighted the problems facing the major banks.

"Banks in general remain in a difficult place. The uncertainties surrounding regulation, capital reserves and credit availability are overarching, whilst on a local level the current challenges the economy face provide another obstacle," he said.

While Barclays' rivals Lloyds and RBS are part-owned by the taxpayer, there had been speculation that Barclays and HSBC, which are not, were considering moving their headquarters overseas in order to have more freedom over the way they ran their businesses.

At the meeting, Mr Diamond said that Barclays had not had talks with either US regulators or other overseas bodies over relocating its headquarters away from London.

"I want to assure you that Barclays has not had any discussion... about relocation. We will always consider what is best for our shareholders but that does not mean that we wish to move. We have been here for 320 years. This is our home."

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