Barclays annual profit nearly triples as bad debts decline

Band Lawrence White and Iain Withers

LONDON, February 23 (Reuters)Barclays BARC.L declared its annual profit almost tripled as bad debt charges fell and its investment bank continued its recent strong performance amid market volatility during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The British lender on Wednesday reported pre-tax profit for 2021 of 8.4 billion pounds ($11.42 billion), up from 3.1 billion pounds a year ago and above the average analyst forecast of 8.1 billion pounds.

Barclays announced it would buy back £1billion of its own shares and raise its dividend for the full year to 4p per share, in its first update to investors since CS Venkatakrishnan took over as chief executive after Jes Staley’s shock November release.

Staley left after a dispute with UK financial regulators over how he described his ties to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Venkatakrishnan, who is known within the bank as Venkat and as Staley is a former JPMorgan employee, said after his elevation to CEO that the lender’s investment banking-focused strategy was “the right “.

The bank has confirmed that its long-serving chief financial officer, Tushar Morzaria, has decided to step down from the lender, with his deputy Anna Cross due to take on the role from April.

($1 = 0.7357 pounds)

(Reporting by Lawrence White and Iain Withers, editing by John O’Donnell)

((lawrence.white@thomsonreuters.com; +44 20 7513 5083; @ReutersLawrence))

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