forex

Article source: bbc.com

Barclays has put aside another £800m, largely to cover potential further legal action and penalties for alleged foreign exchange manipulation.

The figure was released as Barclays reported a 26% drop in quarterly statutory profits to £1.34bn.

However, excluding one-off items, including another £150m for mis-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI), adjusted profit rose 9% to £1.85bn.

Barclays’ chief executive said he was pleased with the start to the year.

Barclays has now put aside £2.05bn to cover foreign exchange settlements. Last year, six leading banks reached a settlement with US and UK regulators over allegations they were trying to rig the foreign exchange market, but Barclays has yet to reach a deal for its alleged malpractice.

The bank’s finance director, Tushar Morzaria, said the new provision reflected “the further discussions that we’ve been having with a number of regulators and agencies around the world across multiple jurisdictions and it really reflects our best estimate of the full cost of these related matters”.

He said Barclays was trying to resolve the matter, but the timing was out of its hands: “We don’t control the timetable, but we’re working as hard as we can to resolve these matters.”

In November, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, Swiss bank UBS and US banks JP Morgan Chase, Citibank and Bank of America were all fined for colluding to interfere with the market-set price of various currencies.

The fines were issued by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and two US regulators.

Overhaul

PPI mis-selling has now cost Barclays £5.4bn. In total, UK banks have paid out more than £26bn for this type of mis-selling.

Last year, Barclays began a thorough overhaul of its business under boss Antony Jenkins.

Barclays has scaled back its once-mighty investment banking division and is placing a greater emphasis on retail banking.

Antony Jenkins
Antony Jenkins: Much to do but “pleased” with progress

It is in the process of cutting 19,000 jobs, cutting costs and selling off unwanted assets.

Barclays said so far it had cut costs by 7% and reduced investment risk.

Mr Jenkins said: “While we still have much to do, I am pleased with how we’ve begun 2015.”

The bank’s statement also said that resolving legacy conduct issues (such as mis-selling and market rigging) was an important part of its plan to transform Barclays.

Richard Hunter, at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, said that resolving these issues was proving troublesome: “The clear fly in the ointment is the additional provisions undertaken for the forex investigation and litigation, as well as the seemingly perennial PPI situation.

“The fact that these are being made are further proof if it were needed that the bank is still some way from distancing itself from the legacy conduct issues prevalent in the sector.”

Shares in Barclays closed down 1.7% to 256.95p.

TSB growing

Separately, High Street rival TSB Banking Group reported first quarter profits of £34.2m.

The bank, spun off from the Lloyds Banking Group last June, said its share of people switching bank accounts had risen to 7.9%, above its target of 6%.

TSB is the UK’s seventh biggest bank. Although it has been independent of Lloyds for less than a year, it has already agreed to be taken over by the Spanish bank Sabadell.

Its chief executive, Paul Pester, said: “TSB is starting to fire on all cylinders as we take on the big banks in our mission to bring more competition to UK banking.”

Gary Beal