Barclays to close 100 branches in Spain: report

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British bank Barclays will close more than 100 branches and lay off 700 staff in Spain to cut costs and stem losses, the financial daily Expansion said Tuesday.

The cuts, amounting to 17 percent of the staff and almost 20 percent of the branch network, would be announced this week as part of a global plan to reduce costs and open up new markets, it said.

Barclays officials in London and Madrid declined to comment.

The decision coincided with the arrival one month ago of a new head of Barclays' retail banking business in Spain, Jaime Echegoyen, who was formerly the chief executive of Bankinter, it said.

Barclays wanted to re-focus its business in Spain on medium- and high-earning customers.

The 2008 collapse of the Spanish property bubble hit Barclays bank hard, leaving it exposed to bad loans. It was forced to make provisions of 900 million pounds (1.062 billion euros) last year, it said.

Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond had described the group's losses in Spain in 2010 as being unacceptable, the paper said.

© 2011 AFP

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