Bloomberg News

Barclays Investor Al Habtoor Sold Stake in 2009 at ‘Minor’ Loss

October 10, 2011

Oct. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Khalaf Al Habtoor, one of the Middle Eastern investors who bought shares in Barclays Plc as the British lender sought funds during the credit crisis, said he sold his stake in December 2009 at a “minor” loss.

The U.A.E.-based investor said he sold his shares in the bank at 322 pence apiece, almost double their value today, after being disappointed when the lender cut its dividend. The businessman founded Al Habtoor Group, which spans hospitality, construction, automotive and engineering businesses. He declined to say who bought his Barclays stake.

“We sold it at the right time, and we learned a lot from investing in international banks,” Al Habtoor said by phone from Dubai. “The first-year dividend was excellent, but then they decided to distribute a nominal dividend. We decided to divest.”

In 2008, London-based Barclays sold stakes to investors including Al Habtoor and Qatar’s sovereign-debt fund as it aimed to raise 4.5 billion pounds ($7.1 billion) in the wake of the failures of Bear Stearns Cos. and Northern Rock Plc.

The stock subsequently tumbled as the financial crisis worsened and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. collapsed, reaching 47.3 pence in January 2009 before rebounding from March of that year. Barclays scrapped its final dividend for 2008 and paid a 1-penny dividend in 2009 before increasing payments last year.

Barclays shares have resumed their descent, losing 41 percent in the past 12 months as the European sovereign-debt crisis worsened. The shares traded at 170.7 pence as of 3:43 p.m. in London today.

Al Habtoor said his stake originally accounted for about 2 percent of Barclays’ equity, though that shrank to 1 percent at the time of his divestment after the lender brought in more investors to increase capital.

In June 2009, when he said he planned to increase his stake, Al Habtoor called the price “attractive” and said he had “confidence in the bank’s strength and the U.K.’s regulatory system.”

--Editors: Keith Campbell, Edward Evans.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tamara Walid in Abu Dhabi at twalid@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net.


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