Barclays to issue £5bn (€5.79bn) worth of new shares
Barclays is planning to issue about £5bn (€5.79bn) of new shares to help plug a £7bn capital shortfall triggered by tough new UK rules, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Barclays said today it had been in talks with Britain's financial regulator and would update the market alongside its half-year results published on Tuesday. The source said the £5bn announcement could be made as soon as Tuesday.
It will be done as a rights issue, he said, where existing investors are given the opportunity to buy new shares so their stakes will not be diluted.
The Financial Times reported today that Barclays would launch a rights issue to raise more than £5bn and would also detail plans to shrink its balance sheet.
The bank's shares fell more than 4pc in anticipation of a flood of new equity. At 1551 GMT, they were down 3.5pc.
Barclays declined to comment.
Barclays and other European banks are under pressure to comply with new regulation to constrain the industry's risk-taking that could prevent a re-run of the taxpayer bailouts that followed the financial crisis.
Regulators' new focus is on banks' leverage ratios, which do not rely on banks' own risk assessments but express a bank's capital as a proportion of its overall assets.
This has raised the stakes for banks across Europe. Deutsche Bank is expected to unveil plans to shrink its balance sheet when it reports second quarter results on Tuesday.
Barclays needs about £7bn to lift its leverage ratio to a 3pc minimum demanded by the UK regulator from an estimated 2.5pc, taking into account future losses on bad loans and mis-selling compensation.
"There's a strong rumour going around the market today that Barclays are looking to do a rights issue and straightforward convertible bonds," said one debt capital markets banker.
Convertible bonds give investors an option to convert them into equity.
Speculation about the share issue pushed Barclays shares down sharply. The bank was the biggest faller in Britain's FTSE 100 share index. Barclays' stock has more than doubled in value over the past 12 months.
Barclays declined to comment further on its plans. The Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) also declined comment.
One of Barclays biggest 20 investors told Reuters he had not been contacted about any capital raising plans.
"I'm not hugely happy about it but it's been enforced upon them. Does the bank definitely need this extra capital? Probably not. But if the PRA says it, then the bank's hands are tied," the investor said.
A sale of new shares by Barclays, meanwhile, could dent the British government's chances of offloading around a quarter of its 39pc stake in Lloyds Banking Group, worth about £5bn, later this year.
The Lloyds sale was expected in September or October, according to sources with knowledge of government thinking.
"If Barclays taps the market for £4bn of new bank equity, then it might take out some of the firepower ahead of Lloyds share sales later in the year," the investor said.
Barclays' plans could be determined by how much time it is given by the regulator to meet the leverage ratio target. It is expected to be given until the end of 2014 but a tighter deadline would make a sale of new shares more likely.
Sources familiar with the matter said last week that a rights issue was an option for Chief Executive Antony Jenkins, but not his preferred route. But Jenkins has remained in talks with regulators about how to hit the target over recent days and an equity fundraising has become more likely.
The bank has to make sure any bonds it sells would help its leverage ratio under the UK rules. To do this, the bonds would have to count towards Tier 1 capital, the key measure of a bank's financial strength. Similar bonds Barclays has sold, known as CoCos, have been classed as Tier 2 capital.