Barclays beats expectations but suspends buybacks after US trade mistake
A branch of Barclays Bank is seen, in London, Britain, February 23, 2022.
Peter Nicholl | Reuters
LONDON – Barclays announced on Thursday that it has suspended its planned share buyback program due to a costly trading error in the United States
It comes as it reported better-than-expected first-quarter profit as strong investment banking performance helped revenue growth.
The British bank announced last month that it had sold $15.2 billion more in US investment products – known as “structured notes” – than it was allowed to. Barclays said on Thursday it had postponed its share buyback program indefinitely and made a provision of £540 million following the issuance, which is currently under investigation by US regulators. The bank initially said it expected a hit of £450million.
“Barclays believes it is prudent to delay the launch of the buyback program until such discussions [with the SEC] have been concluded,” the bank said in its earnings release on Thursday.
“Barclays remains committed to the share buyback program and the intention would be to launch it as soon as possible after the SEC filing requirements have been resolved and the appropriate 20-F filings have been made.”
Barclays reported net profit attributable to shareholders of £1.4 billion ($1.76 billion) in the first quarter, beating analysts’ expectations of £644 million, according to Refinitiv data. It marks an 18% drop from the first quarter of 2021, when net profit was £1.7bn.
Group revenue rose 10% year-on-year to £6.5bn, driven by strong corporate and investment banking revenues during a spike in market volatility.
“Our revenue growth was driven in part by Global Markets, which helped clients navigate continued market volatility caused by geopolitical and economic challenges, including the devastating war in Ukraine, and the impact of rising interest rates in the US and UK,” said CEO CS. Venkatakrishnan said in a statement accompanying the results.
Other highlights of the quarter:
- Total operating expenses increased to £4.11 billion from £3.58 billion in the first quarter of 2021 due to increased litigation and conduct costs resulting from the US trade error .
- The CET1 ratio, a measure of bank solvency, stood at 13.8%, down from 15.1% in the last quarter of 2021.
- Return on tangible equity rose 11.5% from 14.7% in the same quarter last year, and the bank said it would continue to target a RoTE above double digits.
The findings come after a rocky end to 2021, with longtime CEO Jes Staley stepping down in November following a probe by regulators into his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein. He was replaced by Venkatakrishnan.
Shares have fallen nearly 22% so far this year amid broader worries about interest rates, inflation and slowing growth.
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