Barclays takes net loss as past sins linger on balance sheet

AP News
Posted: Mar 03, 2015 5:34 AM

LONDON (AP) — Barclays' fourth-quarter loss widened as the costs of correcting past problems overshadowed progress in streamlining the bank's business after the global financial crisis.

The London-based bank on Tuesday reported a net loss of 1.68 billion pounds ($2.58 billion), compared with 642 million pounds in the same period a year earlier. The loss reflects more than 2 billion pounds of one-time items, including 750 million pounds set aside to cover penalties for alleged manipulation of foreign exchange markets and 200 million pounds for misselling payment protection insurance.

"We remain focused on addressing outstanding conduct issues, including those relating to foreign exchange trading," said Chief Executive Antony Jenkins, who has made cleaning up the sins of the past his top priority. "I regard the behavior at the center of these investigations as wholly incompatible with our values."

Pretax profit before such one-time items almost tripled to 563 million pounds. The figures demonstrate the underlying performance of Barclays and show that the bank is stronger than at any time since the financial crisis, Jenkins said in a statement.

Barclays cut operating expenses by 9 percent in 2014 as the bank worked to simplify its business and strengthen its balance sheet. The bonus pool for 2014 was reduced by 8 percent to 885 million pounds.

Jenkins decided to take his first bonus since becoming chief executive in 2012, with the bank awarding him 1.1 million pounds. That pushes his total compensation, including long-term awards and other remuneration, to 5.5 million pounds.

The payout may prompt debate after Barclays cut 14,000 jobs and closed a net 72 branches last year.