Barclays assets in Dublin EU hub grow to €143bn as move to Paris explored

UK lender shifted EU base to Ireland after Brexit referendum

UK banking giant Barclays’s European Union headquarters in Dublin saw its assets grow almost 8 per cent last year to €143 billion as it continued to explore moving the hub to Paris.

The increase came as assets in its trading portfolio rose to €17.1 billion from €7.1 billion, mainly as it held tradable securities, such as bonds and equities, to be ready to offer quotes to clients looking to buy and sell assets. This type of business is known as market making.

Barclays Bank Ireland, which is known internally as Barclays Europe, is the group’s main legal entity in the European Economic Area. Its Paris office, however, is increasingly becoming a trading centre.

“The bank continues to explore a potential move of its EU headquarters from Dublin to Paris as outlined in the Barclays Europe 2023 half-yearly financial report [last August],” it said in its annual report. “The bank is making good progress, including in its engagement with regulators and other stakeholders.”

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The group had previously said a move would affect only “a small number of roles” in Dublin, where its workforce doubled to about 300 in the wake of the UK deciding to exit the EU. Barclays and Bank of America were the only major international banks to choose Dublin as their main banking hub in the union following the vote. Citigroup had already established its EU based in the State six months before the Brexit referendum.

Barclays Bank Ireland’s main income comes from corporate banking and investment banking. It also has a growing private banking business, and a long-standing German credit cards operation called Consumer Bank Europe, which is currently up for sale. It was reported late last year that Austrian bank Bawag was the main contender to buy the business for about €500 million.

Barclays Bank Ireland had the equivalent of 1,816 full-time employees at the end of December around Europe. The UK group was reported on Thursday to be readying itself to cut hundreds of investment-banking jobs, in line with long-running efforts to boost earnings and cut costs amid a lull in deal-making. It is not clear what impact this may have on investment bank roles in Barclays Bank Ireland.

“We regularly review our talent pool to ensure that we can invest in high-performing talent, execute on our strategy and deliver for our clients. However, there are no finalised numbers for this year’s review,” a spokesman for the bank said.

Barclays Bank Ireland’s total income rose to €1.28 billion last year from €1.08 billion in 2022, while its pretax profit increased to €264 million from €151 million, according to the unit’s annual report.

Barclays Bank Ireland dates to 1978, but had only about €3 billion of assets at the time of the Brexit referendum. Its €143 billion at the end of last year make it the second-largest commercial bank in the State, after Bank of Ireland.

The unit’s chief executive, Francesco Ceccato, had expressed concerns in an interview with The Irish Times two years ago about the Irish senior executive accountability regime for financial firms, which will come into full effect next year.

The scope of the framework, aimed at making it easier to hold managers in banks and other financial firms accountable for failings under their watch, covers not only executives based in the Republic but also managers of overseas branches of Irish-regulated banks such as Barclays Europe.

However, it is understood that this was not a motivating factor behind Barclays’s decision to consider transferring its EU headquarters out of the Republic.

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