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Barclays reports first-half loss on Africa unit sale

Barclays has reduced its stake in its African operations as part of a global strategic re-think unveiled last year/AFP

London, UK, July 28 – Troubled British bank Barclays on Friday reported a first-half net loss after it offloaded part of its African business.

Barclays posted a loss after tax of £1.21 billion ($1.58 billion, 1.35 billion euros) in the six months to the end of June, while in the first half of 2016 it earned a net profit of £1.11 billion.

A loss after tax linked to the discontinued part of its African banking unit came in at nearly £2.2 billion, Barclays added in a statement.

Barclays has reduced its stake in its African operations as part of a global strategic re-think unveiled last year.

It recently sold 33.7 percent of Barclays Africa for £2.22 billion as the bank focuses attention on its two core markets of Britain and the United States.

Barclays though still wishes to keep its remaining stake of about 15 percent in the African division.

In the first-half, Barclays was hit also by setting aside a further £700 million to compensate customers mis-sold a controversial insurance product that has blighted the entire UK banking sector and cost it tens of billions of pounds.

Barclays’ results “were disappointing on the headline numbers as a result of one off costs, due to the disposal of its Africa business, and weak investment banking revenues”, noted Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

In another blow to the bank, Barclays and four of its former bosses would face trial in 2019 on allegations over an emergency fundraising from Qatar during the global financial crisis, a court stated earlier this month.

It will be the first time that a British bank has faced a criminal trial over its conduct during the financial crisis.

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In May meanwhile, Barclays chief executive Jes Staley used the bank’s annual general meeting to apologise to shareholders after bypassing rules to try and uncover a whistleblower, further tarnishing its reputation.

US national Staley joined the bank in December 2015, and was tasked with restoring Barclays’ battered reputation following a series of high-profile scandals, including the rigging of foreign exchange and Libor interest rate markets.

“The market will be hoping for a bit more positive news in the remainder of the year, though conduct issues may well overshadow the bank’s performance,” Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at stockbroker Hargreaves Lansdown, said following Friday’s results update.

In mid-morning trade on London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index, Barclays’ shares were flat at 208.65 pence.

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