Barclays bank boss Antony Jenkins has accepted his first annual bonus since taking over but a rise in underlying profits was marred by a fresh £750m hit from the foreign exchange (forex) rate-rigging scandal.
Mr Jenkins took a £1.1m bonus for 2014 after declining the payout in the last two years, taking his total annual package, including long-term and other awards, to £5.5m. The payout may prove controversial after a year in which Barclays has slashed 14,000 jobs — with another 5,000 to go by 2016 —and closed a net 72 branches.
Mr Jenkins said the bank was now stronger than at any time since the financial crisis as it announced a 12% rise in adjusted pre-tax profits to a better-than-expected £5.5bn. But he said the forex scandal continued to “cast a shadow” over the business, though he hoped there would be steps towards resolving it this year.
The latest provision for the affair — taking the bank’s total exposure on it to £1.25bn — helped drag statutory profits down 21% to £2.26bn. Shares fell 3%, with the dividend flat at 6.5p.
Mr Jenkins said: “While our work in transforming the bank is not complete, our performance in 2014 gives us confidence that we are on the right track.”
The bottom-line figure was also affected by an extra £200m provision to cover compensation for customers mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI), taking the total for the year to £1.27bn and overall to £5.22bn. There was a £446m write-off on the sale of Barclays’ Spanish business and a “conservative and prudent” £935m mark-down in the value of a £17bn loan book covering various public sector bodies, under new accounting methods.
Adjusted profits for the fourth quarter were £563m, but on a statutory basis they were in the red by £1.47bn. The bank’s 2014 bonus payouts fell by 22% to £1.86bn, with the share received by high-flying investment banking staff down 24% to £1.05bn.
Barclays is shrinking the division, which saw its profits fall 32% to £1.38bn for the year. It comes after criticism of the level of bonuses by shareholders at last year’s annual general meeting, when it was accused of “paying for Manchester United but getting Colchester United”.
Profits at Barclays’ personal and corporate banking arm rose 29% to £2.88bn for 2014, driven by income from personal accounts as well as lower bad-loan impairments amid the improving UK economy.
The shadow of the forex scandal continues to hang over the bank, which chose not to enter into settlements last November which saw six other lenders fined £2.6bn by global regulators, including the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). It is seeking a “more general co-ordinated settlement”, with other authorities in the US still investigating.
Barclays said it is reviewing its foreign exchange trading over a several-year period and continuing to co-operate with relevant bodies, and these investigations could result in “substantial monetary penalties”.
Mr Jenkins said: “We remain focused on addressing outstanding conduct issues, including those related to foreign exchange trading.
“I regard the behaviour at the centre of these investigations as wholly incompatible with our values, and I share the frustration of colleagues and shareholders that matters like these continue to cast a shadow over our business.
“But resolving these issues is an important part of our plan for Barclays and, although it may be difficult, I expect that we will make significant progress on this issue in 2015.”
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