Belfast Telegraph

Now Barclays is caught on hop over its profit figures

By Nick Goodway

Barclays has been forced to release its profit figure nearly 24 hours ahead of schedule, in a further embarrassment for the bank following the theft of thousands of customers' confidential data.

Barclays said it would report that adjusted profits before tax had fallen from £7bn to £5.2bn in 2013 while statutory profits had jumped from £246m to £2.9 bn.

The bank said it had pre-released the profit figures because the exact number had appeared in a newspaper. But it also admitted other press forecasts had ranged up to as much as £5.7bn, with a consensus of £5.4bn.

The bald numbers will not draw attention away from the massive restructuring and potential job cuts which chief executive Antony Jenkins is still expected to announce tomorrow.

Attention will also centre on the size of Barclays' bonus pool which is expected to hit £2.5bn – more than it paid out for 2012 – despite the fall in profits and the latest furore over missing customer data which is being investigated by regulators.

Taxpayer-backed Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland have also both pre-released information ahead of their official, full-year results.

Earlier this month Lloyds said its profits would top expectations paving the way for the Government to sell-off more of its 33% stake. By contrast, RBS announced at the end of January it would carry a further £1.9bn for payment-protection mis-selling and other litigation.

The Barclays release came ahead of the City's top banking regulator's appearance before MPs tomorrow.

Andrew Bailey, deputy governor of the Bank of England and chief executive of the Prudential Regulation Authority, will face a grilling by the Treasury Select Committee.

His appearance is part of the MPs' investigation into the failed sale of Lloyds bank branches to Co-op Bank, known as Project Verde. But with former CBI director general Sir Richard Lambert set to publish his initial thoughts on a new banking standards regulator tomorrow and Barclays' full numbers, the committee's questions are likely to range more widely.

In particular, Bailey may well be questioned over Barclays' bonus pay-out and dividend policy.

Lambert is expected to call tomorrow for a new professional standards body for the banking industry, which he says should be chaired by someone from outside the industry.

He was appointed by the chairmen of the big six banks five months ago to create a new body to oversee UK standards after the unprecedented collapse in public opinion about lenders following the financial crisis.

Belfast Telegraph