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Barclays restores dividend; Serco slumps

Barclays: the bank posted a 10% rise in annual pre-tax profits to £3.54bn against £3.23bn in 2016 and pledged to restore its full dividend with a payout of 6.5p a share.

It was forced to set aside £1.2bn for legal bills and fines, including £700m for PPI, but the bank said that there were no new charges for the mis-selling scandal.

However, it confirmed that a £127m charge taken in its fourth quarter largely related to failed outsourcing giant Carillion, which collapsed into liquidation last month.

Jes Staley, group chief executive, said: “2017 was a year of considerable strategic progress for Barclays. We have already started to see some of the benefits of our work in 2017.”\

Mr Staley faces a probe by Britain’s banking regulators over his attempts to unmask a whistleblower who had raised concerns about a Barclays executive.

Investors had hoped Barclays would update them on the status of the regulatory investigation, which the bank announced on 10 April last year.

Serco:  Profits at public services outsourcing firm Serco, which is managing the Sleeper train service, fell 29% to £69.8m last year.

The company said: “The UK market for public service outsourcing is afflicted by well-publicised traumas”.

Rupert Soames, chief executive, said that after the Carillion collapse the way suppliers and the UK government deal with each other must change.

He said that taxpayers are in the middle and deserve “world-class services”, but there isn’t enough publicly-available information about how government-provided services and privately-provided services perform.

“You’re taking the risk of what government wants to do. We need to have a more balanced relationship between supppliers and government, because [the public services industry] employs 1.2 million people in the UK,” he said in a radio interview.

“There was one case where we were two to three days late to repair a boiler for a flat, and the price of the penalty was more than the flat could be bought for.”

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