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Barclays' top bankers 'in line for bonus bonanza'

Executives at Barclays' investment arm could be in line for pay and bonuses worth an average £250,000 for six months' work, it was reported today.

A stellar performance at Barclays Capital could lead the bank to set aside up to £5 billion for remuneration for the first half of the year, according to the Sunday Times.

The investment banking arm is expected to have boosted the performance of the bank as a whole, and Barclays is tipped to report profits of about £3 billion, despite rising bad debts.

But reports of profits and bonuses could spark further outrage from some staff angry at the closure of the bank's final salary pension scheme to about 18,000 existing members.

Barclays posts its results tomorrow and is the first of the UK's biggest banks - HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland - to reveal the latest scars from the financial crisis.

Along with HSBC, which will also give its latest figures tomorrow, Barclays has managed to shore up its finances without Government assistance.

The bank instead turned to Middle East investors for funding and has also agreed the £8.2 billion sale of its Barclays Global Investors fund management division.

Strong investment banking gains helped the bank to a 15% rise in pre-tax profits to £1.37 billion in the first three months of the year.

This came after its purchase of the investment banking division of collapsed Lehman Brothers, an acquisition that now appears to have been one of the shrewdest moves in the crisis.

No-one from Barclays was available to comment today.

Most of the banks reporting during the week are predicted to remain in the black, despite rising bad debts as unemployment grows and households and businesses succumb to the recession.

The Sunday Telegraph reported that, because of pressure from Chancellor Alistair Darling to boost credit to businesses and households, many of the banks will be keen to demonstrate that they are making less profit from UK lending than rivals.

Low interest rates have also hampered profits as banks are forced to pay above the official interest rate level to retain their savings customers.