Barclays full-year profits almost treble to £3.2bn

Barclays half year profits fell 21%Image source, Getty Images

Barclays has reported a jump in annual profits after making "strong progress" in restructuring.

The bank reported a profit before tax of £3.2bn for 2016, up from £1.1bn the year before.

Its reorganisation has included the sale of its Africa business and selling off "non-core" assets.

Chief executive Jes Staley told the BBC the bank was "committed to the UK" post-Brexit, even if Britain leaves the single market.

Barclays has been selling off parts of the business which it deems "non-core". In its annual results, the bank said it would bring forward the closure of the unit dealing with this by six months, and it will now shut on 30 June.

"We are now just months away from completing the restructuring of Barclays, and I am more optimistic than ever for our prospects in 2017, and beyond," Mr Staley said.

Investec analyst Ian Gordon said that Barclays had benefitted from the sharp depreciation of the pound against the dollar following the Brexit vote, and that its investment bank revenues had also helped its performance.

Investment bank revenues of £2.5bn were up 21% compared with the year earlier, after a strong performance in the second half of 2016.

The bank also had lower litigation and misconduct charges in 2016, falling to £1.3bn from £4.4bn the previous year.

However, Barclays still faces a lawsuit by the US Department of Justice for alleged mortgage securities fraud.

Dividend boost?

Mr Staley told the BBC the bank was preparing to add hundreds of staff to offices in Dublin, Frankfurt and Milan to counter Brexit risks to its European business.

While he expects the majority of staff to remain in London, changes to the bank's legal structure, including making Dublin the headquarters of its European business, may be necessary.

BBC business editor Simon Jack said that a return to profit and higher levels of shock absorbing capital meant Barclays hoped to increase its dividend later this year.

Media caption,
Brexit: Barclays 'committed to UK'

Barclays said its core capital ratio, a key measure of financial strength, rose to 12.4% in 2016, which was better than analysts' expectations of 11.8%.

A rise in interest rates in the US and UK would boost Barclays' profit margins, but Mr Staley warned that rising inflation may begin to dent consumer confidence.

African split

Separately, Barclays has agreed to pay Barclays Africa 12.8 billion rand (£790m) to fund investments required to separate the African unit from the main Barclays business.

The separation agreement will let Barclays reduce its stake in the Africa business to below 50% as part of a strategy to focus on the US and the UK.

Barclays Africa said the money would be used to invest in technology, rebranding and other projects related to the separation.