Barclays reports 21% fall in pre-tax profits

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Media caption,
Barclays Chief Executive Antony Jenkins speaks to the BBC's Kamal Ahmed about why banks "must be run in the right way"

Barclays has reported a fall in profits as it set aside more funds to cover potential fines for misconduct.

Statutory pre-tax profits fell 21% to £2.26bn in 2014. The bank increased its provision to cover any fallout from a probe into currency market manipulation by £750m to £1.25bn.

Stripping out this and other provisions and charges, adjusted profits rose 12% to £5.5bn.

Boss Antony Jenkins was awarded a £1.1m bonus - his first as chief executive.

This pushed his total pay package to £5.5m for 2014.

But the bank reduced the overall pool of money allocated for bonuses by 22% to £1.86bn.

Mr Jenkins defended his bonus, saying the bank had reduced operating costs by 9% to £18bn and had made a "huge amount of progress."

Expensive provisions

As well as increasing the foreign currency provision, the bank increased the pot of money set aside to cover payment protection insurance (PPI) compensation.

The provision was increased by £200m for the last three months of 2014, the bank said, taking the year's total to £1.1bn.

Referring to the large amounts set aside to cover legal costs, fines and compensation, Mr Jenkins said he was determined the bank would not make the same mistakes again.

In an interview with BBC business editor Kamal Ahmed he said: "If we look at the history of many of these conduct issues... they have been very bad for the industry, very bad for shareholders, and very bad for customers.

"It's just not acceptable."

Image source, PA

Analysis: Kamal Ahmed, BBC business editor

Antony Jenkins is saying today that Barclays is in the healthiest position it has been in since the financial crisis.

Some of the numbers revealed in its annual results support the view of the chief executive.

However, there are still some pretty major "buts".

The bank has taken a major new provision for future fines for foreign exchange manipulation - £750m.

That brings the total to £1.25bn and suggests that the American Department of Justice is limbering up to give the bank a major whack for past misconduct.

Provisions were also increased for the mis-selling of payment protection insurance.

And at the investment bank, Barclays is in what it describes as a "transition" year.

Forex fines

From April criminal charges will be introduced for market manipulation - a move that Mr Jenkins backs.

He told our business editor that such measures were not just a way of regaining public trust in banking, but also as a way of reassuring investors that banks have changed.

"I... think that having that criminal sanction would be helpful in ensuring that the City of London delivers for all of its shareholders."

In November, UK and US regulators fined six banks a total of £2.6bn for trying to manipulate foreign exchange rates.

HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, Swiss bank UBS, and US banks JP Morgan Chase, Citibank and Bank of America, all fell foul of the regulators.

A separate probe into Barclays is continuing.

More than $5tn worth of currencies are traded daily in the foreign exchange markets, dwarfing the stock and bond markets.

About 40% of the world's dealing is thought to go through London trading rooms.

Mixed picture

At Barclays, while pre-tax profits in the personal and corporate banking divisions rose 29% to £2.89bn, and Barclaycard profits rose 13% to £1.34bn, the investment bank fared less well.

Its profits plummeted 32% to £1.38bn in 2014 as income fell 12%, reflected in a 24% reduction in the bonus pool for staff at the business.

Chirantan Barua, senior analyst at Bernstein Research, pointed out that Barclays' investment bank - once the group's profit-driving engine room - had put in a "a much weaker performance than peers" such as Goldman Sachs and Citigroup.

Shares in Barclays were down 2.7% at 255.7p in the early afternoon.

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