Barclays restores dividend but fails to hit estimates on profits

LONDON (Reuters) – Barclays PLC on Thursday reported a below-forecast 10 percent rise in its annual profit for 2017, and pledged to restore its full dividend with a payout of 6.5 pence per share in 2018.

Barclays posted a pretax profit of 3.5 billion pounds for 2017, up from 3.2 billion pounds a year ago but worse than the 4.7 billion pound average of analysts’ forecasts compiled by the bank.

The bank however kept investors waiting on the fate of its Chief Executive Jes Staley, as he faces a probe by Britain’s banking regulators over his attempts to unmask a whistleblower who had raised concerns about a Barclays executive.

Investors had hoped Barclays would update them on the status of the regulatory investigation, which the bank announced on April 10 last year.

The bank said it would resume paying its full dividend, which it had slashed by 50 percent in March 2016 in order to provide extra funds to pay for a hefty restructuring that included selling the majority of its stake in Barclays Africa Group.

The bank reported an attributable loss of 1.9 billion pounds, thanks to a 2.5 billion pound loss from the Africa sale.

Barclays was the worst-performing bank in the FTSE 100 index in 2017, falling nine percent on investors’ concerns about both the underperformance of its investment bank, and its host of legal and regulatory troubles.

Central to both concerns is Chief Executive Staley, who has championed a strategy of aggressive investment in the investment banking division that has so far largely failed to bear fruit.

Profit in the Barclays International division which houses its investment bank fell 22 percent, driven by a 4 percent decline in income from its investment bank and rising impairments.

Barclays’ investment bank has underperformed its U.S. peers in recent results quarters, despite plans announced in October to shift some 20 billion pounds in assets from corporate lending to riskier but higher-yielding trading activities.

The bank recorded a 901 million pound tax writedown in the United States.

Barclays in December had forecast the tax hit, which was caused by a reform to the tax system in the U.S. signed into law by President Donald Trump. The reform forces banks to reduce the value of their deferred tax assets.

Reporting By Lawrence White and Emma Rumney, editing by Sinead Cruise

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