Barclays steps up provisions on pandemic

  • Banking
  • Thursday, 30 Jul 2020

Rising losses: A man walks past a Barclays bank branch in London. The bank has warned that its capital buffer could come under pressure in the second half of the year. — AFP

LONDON: Barclays has set aside a higher than expected £1.6bil to cover a possible rise in loan losses in the second quarter of the year, as the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic begins to bear down on its consumer business.

Barclays was expected to report credit impairment charges and loan loss provisions totalling £1.42bil for the April-June period, according to an average of analyst forecasts compiled by the bank.

That increase takes total provisions to £3.7bil for the half-year and analysts predict that sum to rise to £5.79bil for the full year.

While Barclays’ consumer business faltered under lower demand for credit cards and personal loans, its investment bank shone in a quarter marked by a flight to safe havens and sharp swings in most asset classes.

The fixed income, currencies and commodities division was the top performer in the corporate and investment banking unit with a 60% increase in income to £1.4bil during the second quarter.

The markets division posted a 49% rise in income to £2.1bil.

The strong investment bank performance supports chief executive Jes Staley’s strategy of maintaining the bank’s diversified business model, contrary to the wishes of activist investor and top shareholder Edward Bramson, who wants Barclays to shrink the business to slash costs.

The British lender booked pre-tax profit for the first half of the year of £1.3bil, down from £3bil a year ago, as provisions against potential bad debts outweighed improved revenues from its investment bank.

In other positive news for the bank, Barclays’ capital ratio came in at 14.2%, up from 13.1% at the end of March as recent regulatory changes boosted its reserves in a boon for the lender which has in recent years skated close to the lower threshold acceptable to authorities.

Barclays flagged the capital boost earlier this month.

However, the bank warned its capital buffer could come under pressure in the second half of the year. — Reuters

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