Barclays slashes bonus pool after 2011 profit fall

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LONDON (AP) — Barclays PLC revealed Friday that it is slashing its bonus pool after earnings at its investment banking division fell sharply and dented overall profitability.

The bank said it was taking the action as it reported that its profit after taxes fell 15 percent last year to 3 billion pounds ($4.8 billion) from 3.56 billion pounds the year before even though income rose 2.6 percent to 33 billion pounds. Much of the profit decline was due to a 32 percent fall in pretax profit at the Barclays Capital investment banking unit to 2.97 billion pounds.

The bank said the average bonus for Barclays Capital employees will be 64,000 pounds ($101,000), down 30 percent from 2010. The total bonus pool was cut by 25 percent and the average bonus per employee will be 21 percent lower at 15,200 pounds.

"We need to balance remaining competitive with being responsive to the public mood," Chief Executive Bob Diamond told reporters after the publication of the results.

Bonuses are a highly sensitive political issue in Britain, particularly at Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group which were bailed out by taxpayers.

Lloyds chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio and RBS CEO Stephen Hester have both waived their bonuses, though Hester did so only after coming under intense political pressure.

Barclays said bonuses for executive directors and the eight highest paid senior executive officers would be down 48 versus 2010 on a like-for-like basis. Diamond received a bonus in shares worth 1.8 million pounds last year.

Barclays said no one would get a cash bonus of more than 65,000 pounds.

A more detailed look at the results show that the bank's adjusted pretax profit of 5.6 billion pounds fell short of the consensus forecast of 5.8 billion pounds.

After initially opening lower, Barclays shares in London were trading 2.9 percent higher after an hour of trading.

Richard Hunter, analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, said the initial sell-off appeared to respond to the disappointing top line results and that the upturn fed on more positive news within the earnings report.

Hunter noted a 48 percent gain in pretax profit in the retail and business banking, a return to profit in the corporate division, a 9 percent hike in the dividend to 6 pence and a "sturdy" Tier 1 capital ratio of 11 percent.

Barclays shares are now at their highest level since July. A year ago they were trading at about 330 pence but fell as low as 139 pence in September.

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