Barclays beats expectations but suspends buybacks after U.S. trading blunder

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A branch of Barclays Bank is seen, in London, Britain, February 23, 2022.
Peter Nicholls | Reuters

LONDON — Barclays on Thursday beat analyst expectations for the first quarter, as strong investment banking performance helped drive income growth.

The British bank reported first-quarter net profit attributable to shareholders of GBP1.4 billion ($1.76 billion), above analyst expectations of GBP644 million, according to Refinitiv data. It marks an 18% decline from the first quarter of 2021, when net profit came in at GBP1.7 billion.

Group income rose 10% year-on-year to GBP6.5 billion, driven by strong corporate and investment banking earnings during a spike market volatility.

“Our income growth was driven partly by Global Markets, which has been helping clients navigate ongoing market volatility caused by geopolitical and economic challenges including the devastating war in Ukraine, and by the impact of higher interest rates in the US and UK,” CEO C. S. Venkatakrishnan said in a release accompanying the results.

It comes after a turbulent end to 2021, with long-time CEO Jes Staley resigning in November following an investigation by regulators into his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein. He was replaced by Venkatakrishnan.

Meanwhile, last month, Barclays announced that it had sold $15.2 billion more in U.S. investment products — known as “structured notes” — than it was permitted to. The bank said it expects to take a GBP450 million hit as a result of the issue, which is currently being investigated by U.S. regulators.

“Our performance includes the relevant costs relating to the over-issuance of securities in the US and customer remediation of a legacy loan portfolio,” Venkatakrishnan added.

Barclays announced at the time that its planned share buyback program would be delayed until the second quarter.

Shares are down by nearly 22% so far this year amid wider concerns over interest rates, inflation and a slowdown in growth.

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