Barclays resume dividends, buybacks as first half profits almost treble

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FILE PHOTO: A Barclays bank building is seen at Canary Wharf in London
FILE PHOTO: A Barclays bank building is seen at Canary Wharf in London, Britain May 17, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

July 28, 2021

By Lawrence White and Iain Withers

LONDON (Reuters) – Barclays reported first half profits nearly trebled as it followed Wall Street rivals in reaping bumper investment banking fees from frenzied dealmaking, while COVID-19 pandemic-related bad loan charges remained low.

Barclays on Wednesday reported profit before tax of 5 billion pounds ($6.94 billion) for the six months ended June 30, well above the consensus forecast of 4.1 billion pounds from analysts polled by the bank and up from 1.3 billion a year ago.

The results were further boosted by the bank releasing $700 million in cash set aside for bad debt charges that so far have yet to materialise, as government support measures prop up the economy.

The British lender said it would pay an interim dividend of 2 pence per share, after the Bank of England in July scrapped its pandemic curbs on payouts since its stress tests showed they could cope with COVID’s impact on the economy.

It also said it would buy back 500 million pounds of its own shares, as it forecast bad loan charges would remain below historical levels due to the improved economic outlook and low default rates on unsecured lending.

($1 = 0.7209 pounds)

(Reporting By Lawrence White and Iain Withers; Editing by John O’Donnell)