Barclays CEO Promises Clarity on Dividends at Start of 2021

Barclays Plc Chief Executive Officer Jes Staley said shareholders will have to wait until early 2021 to learn whether dividends can return, almost a year after the Covid-19 pandemic put the brakes on payouts.

“We’ll have the conversations with the Bank of England in the latter part of this year,” Staley said in a Bloomberg Television interview Friday, as he emphasized the strength of the bank’s balance sheet. “We will address our policy around returning capital to shareholders at our year-end results.”

British lenders have madelittle secret of their desire to restart payouts, which were halted at the end of March after pressure from the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulatory Authority. The supervisory arm has said it will assess firms’ payout plans beyond the end of 2020 in the fourth quarter this year.

Staley’s comments came after the lender reported third-quarter results that boosted shares by 7.4% as of 11:06 a.m. in London. The bank’s traders had another strong quarter as pandemic-driven market volatility persisted and its domestic British bank benefited from a pickup in mortgage demand, swinging back to profit.

The executive also played down the possibility of the U.K. central bank introducing negative interest rates, which would hurt profits at lenders.

“We’re prepared operationally for the bank to run with negative interest rates,” Staley said on Bloomberg Television. “I think it is important that central banks keep in their wallet the ability to use negative interest rates, but I personally believe here in the U.K. it’s not likely.”

The challenges ahead don’t seem to faze Staley. On a conference call Friday, he said he planned to stay on as CEO for a while yet.

“I think I will be here for another couple of years,” he said. “Then it’s a question of the appropriate time to make a transition.”

— With assistance by Stefania Spezzati

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