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Thursday, 2 August, 2001, 12:48 GMT 13:48 UK
Profits up at Barclays
Barclays chief executive Matthew Barrett
Barrett: 'too much doom and gloom'
The UK's fourth biggest bank, Barclays, has reported a 16% rise in half-year pre-tax profits to 1.9bn.

The results were up from 1.65bn for the same period last year.

They were helped by the inclusion of the mortgage bank Woolwich which Barclays bought last year.

The bank also confirmed its position as the leading internet bank, with 2.7m online customers.

But in a sign of the UK's weakening economic outlook, Barclays revealed that it had increased its bad debt provision by 25% to 498m.

'Doom and gloom'

Chief executive Matthew Barrett said there was no undue cause for worry.

"Our risk profile is in pretty good shape," he said.

He said there was a lot of "doom and gloom" being talked about the economy by pundits.

But Barclays' outlook remains unchanged and there was "cause for caution but not alarm."

Barclays' debt financing arm Barclays Capital performed will thanks to a favourable debt market this year.

Barclays shares were down 0.6% at 2065p in early trading on the London stock exchange.

Dealers said investors were locking in profits after the stock's recent good run.

Organic growth

Mr Barrett said Barclays would continue to focus on organic growth, but is open to opportunistic acquisitions if the right deal came along.

Most analysts believe the bank will have to focus on possible European acquisitions after consolidation opportunities in the UK banking sector have largely been exhausted.

But Mr Barrett said he did not feel compelled to strike a major cross-border deal to bolster the group's European operations.

"Our primary thrust is internal organic growth because we have businesses with both global reach and regional reach.

"We are not compelled to chase some big-cross border deal," he said.

But he conceded that Barclays "scans and looks for potential partners across the board but I would not hold your breath".

See also:

08 Feb 01 | Business
Barclays seeks to get bigger
11 May 01 | Business
Watchdog fines Barclays Stockbrokers
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