Barclays Resumes Shareholder Dividends as Profits Fall 38%

The UK lender will reinstate bonuses and undertake a share buyback as its COVID-damaged profits beat analysts’ predictions.

Barclays announced plans for a share buyback and a resumption of its dividend on Thursday as it revealed that its full-year numbers for 2020 came out at a £3.1 billion pre-tax profit.

Though the bank’s full-year profit was down 38% compared with 2019’s figures, Barclays still managed to defy analysts’ expectations of a pre-tax profit of £2.8 billion. This is partly owed to a slight increase in revenue, with its corporate and investment bank reporting a 35% jump in pre-tax profits for the whole of the year, the best on record for the division.

A large part of Barclays’ costs for 2020 stemmed from the bank’s decision to set aside £4.8 billion to cover loans that it considers unlikely to be paid back due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its credit card and retail banking businesses were also struck by a downturn in demand, cutting pre-tax profits by 78%.

Barclays has been one of the largest providers of emergency loans during the COVID-19 pandemic, having issued around £27 billion to businesses and provided more than 680,000 payment holidays globally for customers with outstanding loans, mortgages and credit cards.

Despite its losses, the bank announced on Thursday that it would resume dividends, with payments of 1p per share issued to shareholders.

Barclays’ CEO, Jes Staley, expressed optimism on the back of the full-year earnings report. “Barclays remains well capitalised, well provisioned for impairments, highly liquid, with a strong balance sheet, and competitive market positions across the group,” he said.

“We expect that our resilient and diversified business model will deliver a meaningful improvement in returns in 2021.”

Separately from its results, Barclays also reported that its staff bonus pool for 2020 was 6% higher than the £1.5 billion pool it shared out in 2019.

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