LONDON— Barclays PLC posted a profit in 2020 as buoyant securities trading made up for a lackluster banking performance in the U.K., where the coronavirus pandemic caused the largest economic contraction among the world’s advanced economies.
Net profit at the London-based bank fell 38% from a year earlier to £1.53 billion, equivalent to $2.12 billion. Profit at Barclays’s corporate and investment bank rose 29% to £2.55 billion.
The results support the strategy of Barclays Chief Executive Jes Staley, who has fended off demands from activist investor Edward Bramson to scale back the investment bank. Mr. Bramson’s Sherborne Investors says it owns 5.8% of Barclays. European lenders with large securities-trading units, such as Deutsche Bank AG and BNP Paribas SA, have fared better in the pandemic.
“2020 demonstrated the value of our diversified banking model,” Mr. Staley said in a statement.
Barclays is the U.K.’s second-largest lender by assets after HSBC Holdings PLC, operating a large domestic retail and commercial bank as well as a trans-Atlantic investment bank that competes with the likes of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley .