Barclays is now the UK's leading banking brand, having narrowly avoided the worst problems of the 2008 financial crisis. Following a difficult decade in the 1990s, during which it cut loose most of its global profile, Barclays set about re-establishing an international presence in the 2000s with purchases in Spain and South Africa. In 2007, it agreed outline terms for a merger with Dutch banking giant ABN Amro, before being beaten to that prize in a bidding war against a consortium led by Royal Bank of Scotland. That was to prove a lucky escape, as the purchase of ABN Amro subsequently came close to destroying its buyers. Saved from that fate, Barclays had no need for government aid in the global financial crisis which followed. Instead, it took advantage of the turmoil within the industry to snap up the substantial investment banking division of failed Wall Street giant Lehman Brothers for a bargain price. Despite its greater financial strength it has felt the impact of public and regulatory dissatisfaction with banks in general, receiving several large fines for fiscal misbehaviour as well as widespread negative media coverage, especially in the UK. That led to the departure of hard-charging American CEO Bob Diamond in 2012. His successor Antony Jenkins lasted less than two years. Latest CEO Jes Staley has also been reprimanded for breaching internal rules. In the mean time, the bank has steadily unpicked several of the acquisitions it made after 2000, including almost all of its international footprint as well as a large part of its investment banking division. It is now focused primarily on UK retail banking and international commercial banking. Almost all activities are conducted under the main Barclays banner or as credit card business Barclaycard. Other brands - Woolwich mortgages or FirstPlus consumer finance - have been phased out. Barclays is the biggest banking brand by current accounts and the #5 in 2017 by mortgage lending. Total income in 2017 was £21.1bn, the lowest figure since 2005. Losses and impairment on the sale of ABSA South Africa resulted in a net loss of £1.9bn.
Capsule checked 15th February 2019
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Adbrands Daily Update 14th Mar 2019: BBH retained Barclays Bank following a review in which it defended the account against stiff competition from AMV BBDO, Mother and Publicis. The agency has held the business since 2001, but Barclays called a review at the beginning of the year. The hold is a resounding endorsement of BBH's work. "We're incredibly proud of the work we've produced with Barclays over the past 17 years," said BBH London MD Karen Martin, "but we never rest on our laurels. We pitched against some of the best agencies in town and our deep expertise and future-facing skills proved that we continue to be the best creative partner for Barclays as it enters its next chapter."
Adbrands Weekly Update 17th May 2018: Barclays CEO Jes Staley was fined £640,000 - almost $1m - by UK regulators for trying to uncover the identity of an anonymous whistleblower who accused him of covering up the personal problems of a friend, not just when they worked together at JP Morgan Chase but also when the friend was hired by Barclays. Staley also had his annual bonus docked by £500,000 over the incident. He may face additional fines from US regulators, but the Barclays board reiterated its support for him.
Adbrands Weekly Update 22nd Feb 2018: There were mixed results so far for British banks. Lloyds Banking Group celebrated what it called a "landmark year" with net profit up 41% to £3.5bn, despite setting aside another £1.65bn to settle complaints of PPI mis-selling. Total provisions for PPI now total £18.7bn. Total income rose 6% to £18.5bn. HSBC wrote off almost $1.8bn against loans to collapsed UK construction company Carillion and South African retail group Steinhoff and other provisions, and also warned it could face more than $1.5bn in fines for money laundering and tax evasion in its private banking division. Yet even with those exceptional items, net profit more than tripled to $11.9bn on revenues up 11% to $49.7bn. Barclays reported pretax profit of £3.5bn, up 10%, on revenues down 2% to £21.1bn. However US tax reforms and a large loss on the sale of its ABSA division in Africa resulted in a net loss of £1.9bn.
Adbrands Weekly Update 22nd Jun 2017: British bank Barclays and four former executives including ex-CEO John Varley have been charged with fraud by British regulators in connection with a deal agreed in 2008 with the Government of Qatar. That year Barclays raised almost £12bn in emergency funding from investors, including around £5bn from Qatar, to avoid a bailout from the UK government. A statement from the Serious Fraud Office said the charges of conspiracy to defraud and of false representation relate to "a $3 billion loan facility made available to the State of Qatar" at the same time as the cash call. Private equity fund PCP, which also took part in Barclays cash call on behalf of another Gulf State, has already accused Barclays of artificially boosting its share price by lending Qatar the money to invest back into the bank to buy stock. Barclays denies those allegations.
Adbrands Weekly Update 4th May 2017: There were more strong numbers from UK banks, which seem all to have finally turned the corner after years of struggle with impairments, fines and litigation. Like Lloyds last week, Barclays doubled its underlying profits for the first quarter, though the final reported figures were dented by a £658m loss on the sale of Africa subsidiary Absa. Revenues were also up strongly by 16%. Meanwhile Royal Bank of Scotland reported a much higher than expected profit after years of losses. Analysts had been anticipating a £50m net profit, but instead RBS delivered almost £260m, compared to a loss of £960m in the year ago quarter. Topline was up 14%. HSBC also made up for a string of disappointing numbers last year with a 40% jump in revenues and underlying profits that were also well above expectations.
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