Page last updated at 08:08 GMT, Thursday, 7 August 2008 09:08 UK

Barclays profit slumps by a third

Barclays bank branch
Barclays has successfully courted foreign investors

Barclays has seen pre-tax profits drop 33% in the first half of 2008 following more credit crunch related write-downs.

The bank made 2.75bn, down from 4.1bn, which it said was "acutely disappointing" but which beat many analysts' expectations.

The fall in profits was less than that seen by most of its competitors.

Barclays said it had taken charges of 2.45bn for bad debts, including exposure to US sub-prime mortgages and other credit market problems.

Barclays has done particularly well, given that so much of its growth over the past few years has come from an investment bank
Robert Peston
BBC Business Editor

'Tough' conditions

Barclays said the outlook would remain difficult.

"It would be wrong... to suggest that the market conditions over the foreseeable future will be anything other than tough," said chief executive John Varley - pointing to slowing economies around the world.

"That means that we must remain very vigilant to managing risk."

He added that some parts of the business "may take quite some time" to return to the profitability of previous years.

The 2.45bn of charges in the first six months of 2008 compared with 959m of write-downs in the same period a year ago.

Barclays' investment banking arm - Barclays Capital - saw profits fall 68% to 524m, after it took nearly 2bn in write-downs as a result of the credit crunch

Capital raising

BBC business editor Robert Peston said that Barclays had done well, especially given that so much of its growth over the past few years has come from Barclays Capital (Barcap) - which remained profitable.

Billions of dollars
Citigroup 46.40
Merrill Lynch 36.80
UBS 36.70
AIG 20.23
HSBC 18.70
RBS 16.50
IKB 14.73
Bank of America 14.60
Morgan Stanley 11.70
Deutsche Bank 11.40
Ambac 9.22
Barclays 9.20
Wachovia 8.90
MBIA 8.41
Credit Suisse 8.13
Wasington Mutual 8.10
HBOS 7.50
Source: Reuters

"More-or-less every analyst on the planet expected Barcap to be the pre-eminent credit-crunch victim," he said.

"But, to date, Barcap has not suffered credit losses anywhere near as big as Merrill, or UBS, or even Royal Bank of Scotland"

Barclays has 11.5 million UK customer accounts, and 786,000 mortgage accounts.

At its credit card operation Barclaycard, bad debt charges increased 10%, partly because of its recent purchase of Goldfish.

Barclays recently raised 4.5bn from investors to boost its balance sheet.

The bulk of shares were sold to major overseas and institutional investors, led by Qatar, China and Singapore.

And earlier this week Barclays agreed to sell its life assurance arm to Swiss Re for 753m as part of its capital raising efforts.

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