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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 August, 2003, 15:43 GMT 16:43 UK
Profits boost for Barclays
Barclays Bank branch
Profits at Barclays Bank have risen by a better-than-expected 12% during the first half of the year.

The High Street bank said pre-tax profits rose to 1.96bn ($3.17bn) for the six months to 30 June, compared with a 1.755bn profit at the same time last year.

Operating income rose 5% to 5.99bn and the bank cut its bad debt provisions by 9% to 652m.

Investors welcomed the figures, and Barclays shares were up 41 pence, or 9.4%, at 477p by the close of trading.

"Barclays delivered a good first half performance, demonstrating that our strategy to transform the bank is on track and gathering momentum," said chief executive Matthew Barrett.

"We have seen good revenue growth, tight cost discipline and prudent risk management."

Consumers staying confident

Barclays said the global business climate had improved following the war in Iraq and increased confidence that the US would avoid a 'double dip' recession.

I would like us to build a business outside the UK with Barclaycard that is as important inside a decade
Matthew Barrett, Barclays chief executive
In the UK, the bank said the economy had remained "relatively robust", with consumer confidence staying high thanks to low levels of interest rates and unemployment.

Barclays' personal financial services division reported a 6% rise in income, with double digit growth in general insurance, consumer finance and mortgage income.

Operating profit at the division rose by 12% to 534m.

Overseas expansion

Last month Barclays bought the Spanish bank Banco Zaragozano for 800m.

Barclays has been eager to extend its presence in continental Europe in order to reduce its dependence on the highly competitive UK market.

Mr Barrett said the purchase was a "no regrets move" and that the bank would aim to expand its interests in Spain and Portugal.

He also said that the bank was looking to expand its credit card business Barclaycard to overseas markets.

"I would like us to build a business outside the UK with Barclaycard that is as important inside a decade," Mr Barrett said.

Barclays buys Spanish bank
08 May 03  |  Business
Barclays rises on cautious outlook
13 Feb 03  |  Business

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