Britain and Barclays are very much open for business after the Brexit vote, Jes Staley, the bank’s American chief executive, has declared.
“The Bank of England, post-Brexit, said it wanted the financial community in the UK to support the economy,” said Staley. “Barclays critically wants to play its part in that. I want Barclays to be a centre of civility and safety, and we intend Barclays to be open for business.”
He said that since the vote, the bank had approved £8 billion of mortgages — more than the same time last year — and led Melrose’s £2.8 billion takeover of a US air-conditioning business.
It had also struck the first post-referendum bond issue and led the first flotation in European markets.
Staley added that he waited to see what the Bank of England would do with interest rates and quantitative easing next month: “A 25-basis-point cut won’t have much effect on us but a cut to zero would. But I don’t see any need for us to make a change in direction. There has been a pause by retail and corporate customers since the referendum but the supply of credit is here. ”
Barclays’ first-half profits fell 21% to £2.06 billion as it took a £372 million writedown on its French business, which it has agreed to sell to private-equity firm AnaCap, and another £400 million charge for PPI mis-selling.
Losses from non-core businesses also increased after Staley speeded up their sale or closure.
Barclays had the strongest performance of any European investment bank in the first half, according to Staley, and is likely to see a boost from the weaker pound in the second half because most of its business is done in dollars.
The extra PPI charge was unexpected, and takes Barclays’ total cost for the mis-selling scandal to £7.8 billion. It relates to a business the bank actually sold before the financial crisis but where it had indemnified the buyer, who is now dealing with past claims.
Staley said Barclays’ presence in Europe post-Brexit was vital but could be sorted in various ways.
“Maintaining our presence as a leading investment bank in European markets is very important,” he said. “So, too, is our credit-card business across northern Europe and particularly Germany, where we are the market leader.”
Barclays already has an Irish-registered business which could be used to passport financial services into the EU, and also a number of branches it might adapt across the region.
Barclays shares rose 7.2p, or 5%, to 153.7p.
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