Belfast Telegraph

Barclays sells off Spanish and Portuguese credit card business

Barclays has completed the sale of its Spanish and Portuguese credit card business as the bank charges ahead with asset disposals as part of a company-wide overhaul.

The bank said that its £1.2 billion Barclaycard consumer payments business was "sold at a small premium" to Spanish online bank WiZink.

WiZink, previously known as Bancopopular-e, is owned by Varde Partners and Spain's Banco Popular.

Barclays has been working to sell down and dispose of its hinterland business as quickly as possible in order to focus on core US and UK operations.

The bank said that the sale of its Spanish and Portuguese credit card business will help reduce its risk-weighted assets by £1 billion.

The sale, which was originally announced in April 2016 and will see WiZink acquire nearly 800,000 customers, has been given the green light by regulators.

In a statement released on Friday, Barclays said it would continue to offer corporate and investment banking services in both Spain and Portugal, calling them "important elements" of the bank's franchise.

Barclays Group chief executive Jes Staley said: "The Barclaycard consumer payments business in Portugal and Spain is a good business with a highly talented and dedicated workforce but no longer fits with our strategic ambitions. I am sure it will continue to thrive as part of WiZink."

Mr Staley added that the sale marks "further tangible progress towards our target of reducing Non-Core Risk Weighted Assets to c.£23 billion in 2017".

The overhaul has also seen the bank sell down its 62.3% stake in Barclays Africa, and offload its risk analytics and index unit to Bloomberg for about £615 million.

In October, Barclays announced plans to sell its Egyptian business to Attijariwafa Bank for a price understood to be about 500 million US dollars (then £392 million).

The bank's strategic overhaul is part of plans to shore up the bank's balance sheet.

Last month, Barclays reported a drop in net operating income fell to £4.7 billion in the third quarter, down from £5 billion a year earlier, and said it was setting aside an additional 600 million dollars (currently £482 million) to meet compensation claims for mis-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI).

It brought the total provisions over the past two quarters alone to £1 billion.

Barclays is also suffering under the weight of a ballooning pension deficit, now worth £1.1 billion.