Barclays offers board for re-election and £500million in shares in 'unprecedented step'

19 November 2008 / by Rachael Stiles
The Barclays board has taken what the BBC's business editor Robert Peston has called an "unprecedented step" in offering all of its 19 members up for re-election next year.

In an attempt to calm angry investors after it accepted partial nationalisation from two middle eastern investors instead of accepting help from the Treasury, it has also offered existing shareholders the chance of buying £500million worth of high interest shares.

The entire issue of the debt instruments, which pay a high 14 per cent interest, have been snapped up by investors who were angered by Barclays' decision to raise more than £7billion of capital from a Qatar state investment fund and an Abu Dhabi royal.

Existing shareholders are angry that they have not been offered the same RCI (Reserve Capital Instruments) investment opportunities as Barclays' middle eastern investors.

In addition to putting itself up for re-election next Spring, the board has also said that it will not pay itself bonuses for this year, which totalled more than £30million for just five executives in 2007.

But its attempts to defuse the situation and ingratiate itself with its investors before they have to vote on the plans has not done anything for Barclays' share price, which fell a further 5.6 per cent yesterday, opening at 141.2p this morning.

Shareholders could vote against the deal going through, but this could force Barclays to go to the Treasury to beg for a part of its £37billion bail-out fund for the UK banking system, after previously turning its back on the deal, opting to recapitalise independently, which could mean that investors lose out even more.

"Barclays could hardly have seriously considered paying executive bonuses this year but most shareholders don't think that this is about remuneration, it's about the right to take part on the same terms." one investor told the BBC.

© Fair Investment Company Ltd