Barclays leads FTSE down as Qatar Holdings sells remaining warrants

BRITISH blue chip shares fell yesterday, with Barclays tumbling more than five per cent, as the market retreated after its best performance this year last week.

Barclays dropped 5.4 per cent after top shareholder Qatar Holdings cashed in its remaining warrants in the UK bank, a move which led to the sale of up to 303.3m shares.

Bookrunners Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs said the Barclays shares were sold at 244p each, a four per cent discount to Friday’s closing price, but did not confirm whether all the stock had been sold.

Overall, banking was the weakest blue chip sector, knocking over 11 points off the FTSE 100 index. The sector, though, showed little reaction to the surprise news of the appointment of Bank of Canada chief Mark Carney as the next governor of the Bank of England.

Chancellor George Osborne said Carney brought the skills to revamp financial regulation at a time when the BoE will take on a new role in charge of British banking supervision.

Aside from the drop by Barclays, RBS fell 3.2 per cent on concerns it could receive separate fines for its alleged involvement in the Libor-fixing controversy, one from the Financial Services Authority and one from US regulators.

The FTSE 100 closed down 32.42 points, or 0.6 per cent, at 5,786.72, having risen 3.8 per cent last week and posting five straight days of gains. Trading was modest, at around 80 per cent of the FTSE 100’s average 90-day daily volume, as investors awaited the outcome of a Eurozone meeting over Greek debt.