Barclays plc reports 1Q profit fell 7 per cent.

LONDON – Barclays plc said Wednesday that first-quarter earnings fell 7 per cent, dragged down by businesses it intends to sell.

Net income dropped to 433 million pounds ($631 million) from 465 million pounds in the same period a year earlier, the London-based bank reported. Profit from Barclays’ core business, the operations that will remain after the bank completes its restructuring, rose 53 per cent to 950 million pounds.

Chief Executive Jes Staley said that during his first full quarter at the helm Barclays exited investment banking in nine countries, sold Portuguese units offering retail banking, wealth management and services for small and medium-size enterprises, and made progress on other planned sales.

“The performance of the core today shows the potential power of the group once it is freed from the drag of non-core,” Staley said in a statement.

Barclays in March announced plans to split itself in two and simplify operations. The restructuring plan comes as Britain forces lenders to separate riskier investment banking from retail operations. Such ring-fencing is meant to protect savings in any financial crash.

The bank also plans to reduce its stake in Barclays’ African operations over the next three years to a non-controlling position. Barclays Africa Group Ltd. is 62 per cent owned by Barclays and has 12 million customers across 12 countries.

Staley said that the bank is “pleased with the level of indicative interest in what is a high quality business.”

Atlas Mara — a company set up by ex-Barclays’ CEO Bob Diamond — has confirmed that it has held discussions with a group of investors to explore the acquisition of Barclays’ stake.

Chirantan Barua, a senior analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, cautioned that a deal is “market dependent and though an African sales process should aid capital – the deal is not really done.”