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Bad Debt Weighs on Barclays Earnings

Banking group Barclays reported Tuesday a 29 percent fall in net profit for the first nine months of the year as rising provisions for bad debts outweighed a strong performance in its investment banking arm.

Sharon Lorimer

Barclays , one of the few British banks not to resort to a multibillion government bailout, said that net profit for the nine months ended Sept. 30 was 2.73 billion pounds ($4.55 billion, down from 3.83 billion pounds a year ago.

Impairment charges rose rose 65 percent over the same period to 6.21 billion pounds, but the bank said that it expects charges for the full year to be at the lower end of its previously forecast range of 9-9.6 billion pounds.

The bank also reported a 32 percent surge in income at its investment banking and investment management arm over the nine months. Global retail and commercial banking income rose 11 percent.

"We have maintained strong income momentum in the third quarter, particularly in Barclays Capital and across the international activities of global retail and commercial banking, enabling us to achieve consistent profitability across the first three quarters of 2009," said Chief Executive John Varley.

"This performance shows the resilience and diversification of our portfolio of businesses," he added.

Barclays shares were down 4.9 percent at 327.25 pence at the close.

Profit before tax at the bank's British retail arm "decreased significantly," impacted by the current economic conditions. Profit before tax at Barclays Commercial Bank also decreased over the nine months, primarily driven by higher impairment charges, reflecting higher default rates and declines in asset values.

The bank did not provide third quarter net profit figures in the scheduled trading update.

Banks