Barclays profit to be down in first quarter


Barclays profit to be down in first quarter
Group profit at Barclays for the first quarter is below last year's results, chief executive John Varley told shareholders.

Profits at Barclays capital and global investment arms were "well below" the previous year, Mr Varley said in a statement ahead of the bank's AGM today.

Tough trading conditions in March brought down overall profit in the quarter, Mr Varley said.

"But I believe that the same resilience of financial performance that we saw in 2007 is observable again in our first quarter results of 2008," he added.

Mr Varley also said the bank was right not to buy ABN Amro last year, as it could not reach "a price that represented value for money to our shareholders" but added the abandoned bid does not mean a change of strategy.

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) trumped Barclays to buy the Dutch lender as part of a consortium for €72 billion last year, but the acquisition depleted its capital. Following the credit crunch, RBS has announced a £12 billion rights issue to rebuild its capitalisation.

Barclays said that its tier 1 ratio – the measure of a bank's financial strength - was 7.6 per cent at the end of 2007, compared with the bank's target of 7.25 per cent.

In comparison, RBS's tier 1 stood at 4.5 per cent at the end of 2007, one of the lowest in Europe. RBS intends to raise its tier 1 ratio to eight per cent with the rights issue.

Mr Varley also outlined Barclays' goals for the next four years, including generating profit of between £9.3 billion and £10.6 billion during the period 2008-2011, representing compound growth of five per cent to ten per cent.

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