Barclays Group  

Barclays profits steady amid Brexit uncertainty

Barclays profits steady amid Brexit uncertainty

Barclays Group has seen profits remain steady, with the bank setting aside a £150m charge at the end of last year in anticipation of "economic uncertainty" in the UK.  

In its annual results published today (February 21) Barclays announced a 1 per cent drop in its pre-tax profits, falling from £3.54bn in 2017 to £3.49bn last year. 

This figure included £2.2bn in legal and conduct costs, largely related to a £0.4bn payment protection insurance charge and a £1.4bn settlement with the US Department of Justice in relation to mortgage backed securities.

In March last year Barclays reached a settlement with US regulators over allegations it mis-sold mortgage backed securities in the lead up to the 2008 financial crisis that was precipitated by a collapse in those types of products.

Despite this the bank pledged to return a "greater proportion of earnings" to shareholders in 2019, with the bank confirming it would pay a dividend of 6.5 pence this year. 

James Staley, group chief executive at Barclays, said the 2018 had been a "very significant period" for the bank. 

Mr Staley said: "In the course of the year, having resolved major legacy issues and reduced the drag from low returning businesses, we started to see the earnings potential of the bank, as the strategy we have implemented began to deliver." 

He added: "In 2018, based on our strong capital generation, Barclays restored the dividend to 6.5p and redeemed expensive preference shares dating from the financial crisis. This is excellent progress, but not sufficient."

Mr Staley said going forward the bank's priorities on its future earnings would be returns to shareholders and growth of the business.

He said: "We will use the strong capital generation of the bank to return a greater proportion of those earnings to shareholders by way of dividends and to supplement those dividends with additional returns, including share buybacks.

"I am optimistic for our prospects to do more in 2019 and beyond."

rachel.addison@ft.com