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Barclays to end Malta operation

Barclays Wealth is expected to close its representative office in Malta by year's end, according to a company spokesman.

The closure is believed to have been prompted by the small number of people that actually made use of the office since most clients preferred using the phone or other means of communication to deal with the bank.

"Service to Barclays Wealth clients will not be affected other than the removal of a local advisory point of contact. Transactional banking and investment holdings will be uninterrupted," the spokesman said.

Clients, he added, will be able to utilise their UK service contact points with which they should already be familiar. The bank is expected to notify clients of the development in the coming days.

Set up in 1999, the Barclays office provided international private banking, wealth management and advisory services to affluent clients and businesses. The bank's departure is unlikely to have any significant economic impact, market analysts who spoke to this newspaper said.

"It was always good for the country's reputation to have Barclays operate from here but otherwise the biggest impact the departure will have is on the four employees, who will lose their job and the loss of payment for their office rent," a leading stockbroker, who preferred to remain anonymous said.

This is Barclays' second departure from Malta. The Labour government nationalised the bank in 1975, effectively spelling the end of the British bank's presence in the country.

Barclays in Malta become Mid-Med Bank, which was eventually privatised in 1999 after HSBC bought the government's shareholding.

In 1999 Barclays returned to the island, albeit with a very low-key operation.

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