Barclays signals major cost cuts as margin pressure mounts

By Lawrence White and Iain Withers

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Barclays will embark on another restructuring round in the coming months to mitigate the effects of margin pressure from competition in the savings market and another lacklustre performance from its investment bank.

Shares in Barclays fell by as much as 8% in early trading and were 6% lower at 0850 GMT, while rivals Lloyds and NatWest each dipped around 3%, despite Britain’s second-largest bank reporting a profit that just beat forecasts.

Facing a downbeat outlook in its home market in particular, Barclays said on Tuesday it was “evaluating material structural cost actions” to help improve returns, which could incur hefty charges as soon as the fourth quarter of this year.

“These results are likely to lower market expectations further for UK banks, and we see a negative read-across for Lloyds and NatWest,” banking analysts at JPMorgan said.

Chief Executive C. S. Venkatakrishnan told reporters on a conference call that Barclays would look for efficiencies in different parts of the bank, without giving details.

Barclays kicked off a strategy review earlier this year aimed at reviving its share price and has already started trimming costs, including cutting hundreds of jobs, while Reuters reported it is exploring options for its payments unit.

A series of Barclays restructurings since the 2008 financial crisis have included cost cuts, asset sales and strategy tweaks.


Barclays reported pre-tax profit for the July-September period of 1.9 billion pounds ($2.33 billion), down from 2 billion pounds a year ago but above a consensus analyst forecast of 1.77 billion pounds.

Barclays reported a 6% drop in income at its investment bank, following similarly poor half-year results in July.

Revenue in its traditionally strong fixed income, currency and commodities division fell 13% as falling market volatility dampened clients’ enthusiasm for trading.

That was worse than the showings for the same business at Wall Street rivals which reported earnings earlier this month.

Goldman Sachs saw net revenue in the division fall 6% and Morgan Stanley’s slid 11%, while Bank of America and JPMorgan saw 6% and 1% increases respectively.


Venkatakrishnan, known inside Barclays as ‘Venkat’, said it will set out its new capital allocation priorities and revised performance targets with full year results in February, but that the cost cuts could start sooner.

The bank said its net interest margin, a key measure of profitability, in its British retail bank would now likely be between 3.05% and 3.1%, below previous forecasts of around 3.15%, as political pressure to help savers and sticky inflation curb lending returns.

“Consumers are no longer happy to park their cash in low-rate current accounts and are going shopping for higher yields,” said Matt Britzman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

The bank set aside an extra 433 million pounds in the quarter for potentially soured loans, citing updated tougher economic forecasts and a rise in delinquencies in its U.S. cards unit to pre-pandemic levels.

Venkat declined to comment on Tuesday when asked about Jes Staley facing a ban from senior roles in financial services and a 1.8 million pound fine after the Financial Conduct Authority found the Barclays’ former CEO had misled the regulator over his relationship with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Staley said he was “very disappointed” by the watchdog’s decision earlier this month, which he is appealing.

($1 = 0.8151 pounds)

(Reporting by Lawrence White and Iain Withers; Editing by Kirsten Donovan, Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Alexander Smith)