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Last Updated: Monday, 23 July 2007, 05:59 GMT 06:59 UK
China could buy stake in Barclays
By Robert Peston
BBC business editor

Barclays symbol
Barclays is attempting to raise enough finance to take over ABN
Barclays is close to raising around 10bn from the Chinese and Singaporean governments to help finance its takeover of the Dutch bank giant, ABN.

If it succeeds and if Barclays acquires ABN, the Chinese state would emerge with a shareholding of around 7% in the enlarged group.

The Asian cash will be used to help Barclays increase its takeover bid for ABN to around 50bn.

A group led by Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is also vying for the Dutch firm.

Overseas investment

Banking sources have said that Barclays' Asian deal was being negotiated overnight.

A smaller stake of about 3% would be taken by Temasek, the investment arm of the Singaporean government.

If Barclays fails to buy ABN, the newly formed Chinese investment authority and Temasek would take smaller stakes in the British bank.

The Chinese and the Singaporeans are paying around 740p per Barclays share, above its closing market price on Friday night of 713.5p.

Ambitious

The deal was arranged by the leading US private equity house, Blackstone - which recently sold a 1.5bn stake in itself to the Chinese state.

The Chinese state has $1.2 trillion of foreign exchange reserves to invest, much of which has been placed in US Treasuries or government bonds.

China recently signalled it would be taking a more imaginative and aggressive approach to how it invests hundreds of millions of dollars, including buying significant holdings in overseas companies.

The deal with Barclays under negotiation would be the most ambitious manifestation to date of its new boldness as an investor.

The idea that the Chinese government could end up with an influential stake in such an important European financial institution as the merged Barclays/ABN could prove controversial.

Some Barclays shareholders may be concerned that the Chinese are buying the shares without them being offered to existing shareholders.

Barclays will also announce that it will buy in several billion pounds of its own shares.


SEE ALSO
Court approves ABN's LaSalle sale
13 Jul 07 |  Business
New twist in ABN Amro bid battle
26 Jun 07 |  Business
RBS sets timetable for ABN offer
22 Jun 07 |  Business
Unions meet Barclays over ABN bid
21 Jun 07 |  Business
Barclays 'may improve ABN offer'
13 Jun 07 |  Business

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