Qataris make millions from Barclays sale

GULF state vehicle Qatar Holding yesterday offloaded half of its share warrants in Barclays, netting the bank&rsquo;s biggest shareholder a fast profit of over &pound;600m.<br /><br />Qatari investors, who still hold a direct shareholding of over seven per cent in Barclays, were issued with the warrants last November at a subscription price of 197.775p, as part of a controversial move by the bank to raise &pound;5.8bn from its Gulf investors.<br /><br />Qatar Holding exchanged half of the warrants yesterday for 379.2m shares to be sold at the current price, netting it a profit of over &pound;600m.<br /><br />Credit Suisse was appointed as bookrunner for the placing, with Barclays Capital, headed up by Bob Diamond, acting as lead manager for the transaction.<br /><br />Ahmad Al-Sayed, chief executive and managing director of Qatar Holding, said: &ldquo;The decision to exercise the warrants and dispose of the resultant shares forms part of Qatar Holding&rsquo;s portfolio management programme and does not impact on our current intention to remain a long term strategic shareholder in Barclays.&rdquo;<br /><br />He added that the transaction would net Barclays proceeds of approximately &pound;750m.<br /><br />Analysts said the move by the Qataris represented merely a desire to realise a chunk of profit off their investment rather than a loss of confidence in the bank.<br /><br />Shore Capital analyst Danny Clarke, said: &ldquo;I think it is just opportunistic as the warrants became available to be converted. It is a chance for the Qataris to take some profit after the strong rally in the price over recent months.&rdquo;<br /><br />Barclays shares closed yesterday at 363.75p, having lost 4.79 per cent over the course of the day. The group&rsquo;s shares have more than doubled in value since the Gulf fundraising.<br /><br /><strong>QATAR HOLDING<br />CHIEF EXECUTIVE AND MANAGING DIRECTOR <br />AHMAD AL-SAYED</strong><br />THE Qatar Investment Authority&rsquo;s stakeholding in British institutions Barclays and J Sainsbury is symbolic of moves by active investors from the Middle Eastern country who want their share of the City&rsquo;s most high profile assets.<br /><br />Qatar Holding, the investment arm of Qatar Investment Authority, is now also the largest shareholder in Canary Wharf parent group Songbird, after providing an essential &pound;350m lifeline for the Docklands site. <br /><br />And Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment company&nbsp; has provided&nbsp; &pound;2bn funding for London&rsquo;s Shard skyscraper development and the controversial Chelsea Barracks development.<br /><br />Knight Frank partner Nick Braybrook said: &ldquo;The Qataris are second generation investors in London and they have been very active.&rdquo; <br /><br />Due to rising oil prices and weak sterling, experts believe Qatari investors will remain on the offensive.