Qatar sells shares worth £510mn to Barclays, reducing its stake by 5%

Qatar’s sovereign fund has reduced its stake in Barclays. The UK bank is under pressure to revamp its strategy and improve performance by investors.

Qatar Holding, a subsidiary of Qatar Investment Authority, sold nearly 362 million shares worth about £510 million on Monday.
Bloomberg’s data shows that the QIA is Barclays second-largest shareholder. The stock sale will reduce its holding from 5.3 percent to 2.9 percent.

Barclays CEO CS Venkatakrishnan is facing investor pressure to persuade them to accept his upcoming strategy overhaul, set to be announced in the spring.
Investors hope he’ll reduce Barclays reliance on investment bankers and return more capital to investors. A public announcement is expected in February.

Barclays is considering a plan for many clients to leave its investment bank. This was part of a revamp that was meant to reduce costs by £1bn and increase profits.

Barclays’ executives met multiple times this year to discuss a restructuring plan called Minerva, named after the Roman goddess of wisdom.
Shares of the company are down by more than 12 percent this year and trading at close to their lowest level since the Covid-19 Pandemic. Barclays is rated among the lowest of all major global banks.

In 2008, the QIA, a shareholder in Barclays for over ten years, raised over £11bn from investors as emergency funds.The fundraising did lead to a Serious Fraud Office investigation in the UK and subsequently lawsuits.

The case is about the bank giving Qatar a loan of $3bn to buy shares of Barclays. The bank avoided a bailout by the state during the financial crisis.

A UK criminal court dismissed the SFO case in 2018. However, Barclays received a fine of £50mn by British regulators last year for failing to disclose agreements tied to fundraising.

The Financial Conduct Authority said that Barclays did not reveal that it paid “hundreds of millions of pounds in fees to certain Qatari investors in order to obtain new capital.” Barclays announced that it would appeal the fine.

The QIA’s filings reveal that it reduced its Barclays stakes by 5% last year, and 10% in 2021. The sale of stock announced on Monday was the largest in several years.

Barclays refused to comment. The QIA didn’t immediately respond to our request for a comment.