Barclays Plc, the first U.K. lender to report results for 2012, will eliminate 3,700 jobs to reduce annual costs by 1.7 billion pounds ($2.6 billion) after posting its first full-year loss in more than two decades.

The net loss of 1.04 billion pounds compares with a profit of 3 billion pounds in 2011, the London-based bank said in a statement today. Analysts had estimated a loss of 307 million pounds, according to the median estimate of nine surveyed by Bloomberg. The bank set aside an additional 1 billion pounds in the fourth quarter to compensate clients wrongly sold insurance on loan repayments and interest-rate swaps.

Antony Jenkins, who took over as chief executive officer in August, is seeking a return to profit and avoid repeating the regulatory missteps that led to the resignation of his predecessor, Robert Diamond. Jenkins stopped short of setting a profitability target, saying only he will target a return on equity that exceeds the lender’s 11.5 percent cost of equity.

“Our plan is built on a rigorous review of 75 distinct business units to determine not only their ability to generate an appropriate and sustainable return on equity, but also their strategic attractiveness, including their impact on Barclays reputation,” Jenkins, 51, said in today’s statement. “We expect to make good progress towards our financial commitments by 2014 and deliver them fully during 2015.”

Adjusted Profit

Adjusted pretax profit, which excludes gains on the value of the bank’s own debt, provisions and impairments, climbed 26 percent to 7.05 billion pounds, from 5.59 billion pounds for 2011. That missed the 7.14 billion-pound median estimate of 18 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

The shares climbed 0.5 percent to 302.9 pence as of 8:27 a.m. in London trading. The stock has climbed almost 15 percent this year, making it the best-performing of Britain’s five biggest lenders. HSBC Holdings Plc has advanced 11 percent and Lloyds Banking Group Plc, which reports results on March 1, has climbed 10 percent.

Credit impairments and provisions fell to 3.6 billion pounds in 2012 from 3.8 billion pounds, still missing the 3.49 billion-pound estimate Chirantan Barua, an analyst at Bernstein Research. Operating cost rose to 21 billion pounds from 20.8 billion pounds as the bank set aside more for compensation.

“Impairments and expenses both came in worse than expected leading to a miss,” Barua said. “All eyes are on the strategy presentation,” which Jenkins will deliver to analysts and investors at 12:30 p.m. in London.

Cost Reductions

Barclays plans to reduce costs to 16.5 billion pounds by 2015 to reduce them as a proportion of income to about 55 percent compared with 64 percent in 2012.

The lender will eliminate 3,700 jobs this year, with 1,800 coming from its investment bank and 1,900 in European consumer and business banking. About 1,600 have already been cut at the investment bank, Finance Director Chris Lucas told reporters on a conference call today. The firm employs about 24,000 people at its investment-banking unit, and about 140,000 worldwide.

The bank said it will focus on the U.K., U.S. and Africa and will direct its European consumer bank, which lost 239 million pounds last year, on what it called so-called mass- affluent market. The firm will shut its structured capital markets unit at its investment bank. It will take a 500 million- pound restructuring charge in the first quarter.

Adjusted pretax profit at the investment bank climbed to 858 million pounds from 267 million pounds in the year-earlier period. Barclays’s fixed-income, commodities and currencies business, its largest by sales, posted fourth-quarter revenue of 1.46 billion pounds, up 50 percent from 971 million pounds a year earlier and beating the 1.31 billion-pound estimate of Sanford Bernstein’s Barua.

Bonuses Shrink

The average bonus awarded to employees fell 13 percent to 13,300 pounds, while awards at the investment bank declined 17 percent from the previous year to 54,100 pounds, Barclays said. In all, the lender will pay about 1.85 billion pounds in bonuses.

“We’ve said we want to strike the right balance between various stakeholders,” Chris Lucas, who said in February he would step down as chief financial officer, said on a conference call with reporters today. “We are making progress.”

(Source: Bloomberg)