Chief executive Jes Staley hailed a “strong financial performance” in the first half of the year as he tries to resist pressure from activist investor Edward Bramson for a shake-up of the bank. The New York-based corporate raider has built up a stake of just over 5 per cent and is thought to be pushing for Barclays to scale back its investment banking operation.

Staley said: “We are in conversations with Bramson, but he has not outlined what his strategy is to us.”

Barclays posted a 29 per cent drop in half-year pre-tax profit to £1.66billion. But, stripping out litigation and conduct charges, profit rose by a fifth to £3.7billion.

Over the period it paid out £1.4billion to settle US claims it mis-sold mortgage-backed securities and also set aside another £400million for payment protection insurance claims.

Second-quarter pre-tax profit jumped from £659million last year to £1.9billion.

Income at its investment bank was up 1 per cent to £5.38billion, boosted by a 30 per cent surge in revenue at its equities division driven by equity financing and derivatives trading.

Staler said the results gave “the first clear sight” of the business it had re-engineered over the past two-and-a- half years, focused after assets disposals on transatlantic consumer and wholesale activities, and “it is a positive sight”.

He said: “The second quarter underlines the growing pace of delivery at Barclays.

“This is a business which is performing well, having addressed the challenges of the past decade. It was the first quarter for some time with no significant litigation or conduct charges, restructuring costs, or other exceptional expenses, which hit our profitability.”

He added: “The first-half performance shows a bank beginning to demonstrate its true potential and value.

“The numbers strengthen our confidence Barclays can deliver attractive and sustainable profits.”

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