Barclays profits treble to nearly £3.2bn thanks to Brexit and Trump

Roberto Herrett/flickr

( via – Thur, 23 Feb, 2017) London, Uk – –

Barclays profits have surged after the cost of past misconduct fell and traders cashed in on market volatility following the Brexit vote and Donald Trump's election.

The bank said profits rose 182% to £3.2bn from £1.1bn the year before.

It saw a sharp fall in litigation and conduct costs for the year, from £4.4bn in 2015 to £1.4bn last year – though conceded that the threat of US action over past behaviour still hung over the business.

Meanwhile, income from its markets division rose 9% to £5.3bn helped by increased volatility and higher activity in part of the business “post the EU referendum decision and US elections”.

The wider corporate and investment arm of Barclays saw a 14% rise in profits to £2.6bn.

Chief executive Jes Staley received a pay package worth £4.2m for his first full year in the job though the total bonus pool for staff edged down slightly – from £1.54bn to £1.53bn.

It comes days after results from rival HSBC which showed that it was buffeted by “unexpected economic and political events” as profits fell 62%.

HSBC had also reiterated contingency plans to shift 1,000 jobs to France depending on the nature of any Brexit deal but Mr Staley said Barclays had no plans to move staff to Europe.

He said the UK was proving resilient to Brexit uncertainty and said he believed London would “remain the financial centre that it is today”.

Mr Staley added that the bank would “lighten” a hiring freeze put in place last year, which saw the workforce reduce by 15,000.

Barclays has like other UK banks been weighed down by growing multibillion-pound bills to compensate customers who were mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI) in earlier years.

The bank's results reflected the fact that it added £1bn to this bill in 2016, but this compared to £2.8bn the year before.

On Wednesday, Lloyds Banking Group also reported a huge increase to its bottom line thanks to its PPI costs falling year-on-year.

However, the prospect of US action over its sale of mortgage-backed financial products in the run-up financial crisis still hangs over Barclays, after a Department of Justice civil case was filed in December.

Mr Staley said: “Certain legacy conduct issues remain and we intend to make further progress on them.”

The chief executive, who took charge just over a year ago following the departure of predecessor Antony Jenkins, said overall the bank had made “strong progress”.

He said: “We are now just months away from completing the restructuring of Barclays, and I am more optimistic than ever for our prospects in 2017, and beyond.”

The restructuring includes hiving off its Africa business, a move which will see the group pay the division £765m.

Mr Staley is aiming to refocus Barclays as a “transatlantic, consumer, corporate and investment bank, anchored in London and New York”.

Shares climbed 4% in morning trading.

By John-Paul Ford Rojas

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( via – Tue, 21 Feb, 2017) London, Uk – –
Asda said it was seeing early signs of a turnaround under its new boss as it credited a shake-up over the last year for helping to stem falling sales.

Britain's third biggest supermarket, owned by US retail giant Walmart, reported a 2.9% fall in comparable sales for the three months to the end of December.

It was the tenth straight quarter of decline and compares unfavourably with the performance of major rivals over the key Christmas period.

But it represents an improvement on the drop of 5.8% in the previous period and a record drop of 7.5% before that.

Asda replaced boss Andy Clarke with long-serving Walmart executive Sean Clarke last summer.

He said the Leeds-based company was “encouraged by the early signs of our customers responding positively to the hard work that's been happening in our stores throughout 2016”.

The chief executive said it had welcomed more than 140,000 customers back to Asda in the quarter.

“We are putting customers first and have sharpened our prices, improved our ranges and availability, all with friendly service,” Mr Clarke said.

Walmart boss Doug McMillon said: “In the UK, we faced some challenges this past year and we're addressing this with urgency.

“I'm glad comp store sales improved during the fourth quarter, but we have a lot of work to do.”

Asda said in September that it was lowering thousands of prices on everyday favourites by an average of 15% as well as improving the quality of own-brand ranges.

It has been feeling the brunt of the ferocious price war engulfing the supermarket sector as it vies with “big four” rivals Tesco, Sainsbury's and Morrisons for a share of the market being gnawed away by discounters Aldi and Lidl.

Earlier this month, Walmart said it was throwing more of its global buying power behind Asda to help it beat rivals on price.

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( via – – Fri, 17 Feb, 2017) London, Uk – –

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The Facebook co-founder and chief executive spent a month writing the missive in which he opened by asking the question: "Are we building the world we all want?"

He suggested that some people had been "left behind by globalisation" and that efforts must be made to "bring communities together".

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Mr Zuckerberg said he still strongly believes in "connecting the world". However, it was "not enough if it's good for some people but it doesn't work for other people. We really have to bring everyone along".

He added: "In times like these the most important thing we at Facebook can do is develop the social infrastructure to give people the power to build a global community that works for all of us." Mr Zuckerberg lamented the fading of traditional social communities such as churches, labour unions and local community groups.

He wrote: "A healthy society needs these communities to support our personal, emotional and spiritual needs. "In a world where this physical social infrastructure has been declining we have a real opportunity to help strengthen these communities and the social fabric of our society." It was the latest indication that Mr Zuckerberg could eventually seek political office.

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