Barclays will axe thousands of jobs and raise bonuses for its bankers this year, the under-fire British lender said today as its investment arm fell into a heavy loss.
Chief executive Antony Jenkins, who has himself declined a huge bonus as Barclays is probed along with other banks over possible manipulation of foreign exchange trading, said that between 10,000 and 12,000 jobs would go worldwide this year.
Jenkins told a conference call with media that about 7,000 jobs would go in Britain, out of a global workforce of about 139,000.
Union leaders were scathing of Barclays' decision to hike bonuses while scrapping jobs, while Business Secretary Vince Cable called for "a responsible banking sector which rejects the bonus-fuelled culture of the past".
The bank, which is seeking to repair a reputation badly damaged by its role in the Libor interest rate-rigging scandal of 2012, increased the money available for staff bonuses by almost 10 per cent to 2.378 billion pounds USD 3.907 billion, 2.858 billion euros.
While net profits rose, the investment bank unit reported a loss in the fourth quarter, while pre-tax earnings slumped as Barclays factored in restructuring costs and litigation charges.
Along with other British lenders, Barclays has been hit by massive compensation payouts to customers who were mis-sold insurance policies.
"Despite challenging conditions, our underlying performance has been resilient and momentum is building, as evidenced by the results," Jenkins said in comments accompanying the results.
Defending its bonus payouts, the bank said it was being competitive in "ensuring that Barclays has the right people in the right roles".
Barclays, which is Britain's second biggest bank after HSBC, announced today that a strong performance by its retail arm helped lift group profit after tax to 540 million pounds last year, compared with a net loss of 624 million pounds in 2012.