Page last updated at 17:12 GMT, Thursday, 7 May 2009 18:12 UK

Barclays pre-tax profits up 15%

Barclays headquarters in Canary Wharf
Barclays has raised money privately rather than seek government aid

Barclays Bank has announced a sharp rise in profits in the first three months of the year despite a jump in bad debts during the financial crisis.

Gross profits came in at £1.37bn ($2.07bn), up by 15% compared with a year earlier, as record income offset a 79% increase in impairment charges.

Separately, Lloyds Banking Group said it expected to make a loss in 2009 despite "good progress" made this year.

Its shares slid 14.3% as it announced a "significant" rise in impairments.

Without quoting specific figures, the bank said it had delivered "good revenue growth in the first quarter of 2009".

It added that 500,000 new current accounts had been opened during the period, and that it was on course to cut costs by £1.5bn a year by the end of 2011.

We generated strong income growth across most business lines
John Varley, Barclays chief executive

But the bank said that "corporate impairment levels are rising significantly, reflecting the continuing deterioration in the macro-economic environment".

The overall effect of the impairments will, however, be reduced significantly by the bank's participation in the government's Asset Protection Scheme, which insures banks' riskiest assets against further losses, Lloyds added.

"Our intended participation will substantially reduce the risk profile of the group's balance sheet and significantly strengthen our capital position," said Lloyds chief executive Eric Daniels.

BBC business editor Robert Peston said that the good news was that even though Lloyds Banking Group would make a humiliating loss this year, it has more than enough capital to absorb that deficit.

Strong results

Unlike Lloyds and RBS, Barclays has shunned government help, instead choosing to raise money privately.

Total income at Barclays during the first quarter of the year almost doubled to a record £8.15bn because of strong performance at the group's investment banking arm.

It can withstand more-or-less any shock, other than the kind of economic Armageddon which would give us rather bigger things to worry about than the health of Lloyds
Robert Peston, BBC business editor

"Income increased by 42% driven by very strong performance at Barclays Capital and by most of the international businesses within global retail and commercial banking," the bank said.

However, income from UK retail banking fell slightly.

The strong results were achieved despite losses from write-downs of £2.61bn and increased costs related to the bank's acquisition of parts of US bank Lehman Brothers last year.

"We suspect this is by far and away the best quarter Barclays has ever had [excluding write downs]," said Jonathan Pierce at Credit Suisse.

Barclays boss John Varley said the bank's performance reflected "the continued benefit of diversification", including the purchase of Lehman.

"We generated strong income growth across most business lines driven by the investments we have made in expanding our international network," he said.

Private cash

The bank recently agreed to sell its iShares fund management business to CVC Capital Partners to raise £3bn ($4.5bn).

And last year, Barclays raised £7bn from investors in the Middle East in order to avoid taking government money.

The bank has also not taken part in the government's insurance scheme for toxic assets.

The Asset Protection Scheme uses government money to insure banks' riskiest assets against further losses.

Barclays reported profits before tax of £6.08bn for 2008.

Its shares closed down 4.25%.

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Credit TodayBarclays unveils steep profit rise - 10 hrs ago
Yorkshire Post A tale of two banks as bad debts take a hold - 22 hrs ago InvestorGuide Stock of the Day - Lloyds Banking Group Still Sees Yearly Losses - May 7, 2009 - 28 hrs ago
The Age Lloyds loan impairments rise sharply - 29 hrs ago
Reuters India Banks, commodities lift FTSE up 2.5% by midday - 34 hrs ago
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