Barclays shares slip after major backer Qatar cuts stake


London (Reuters) – Barclays (BARC.L) shares opened 4.5% lower on Tuesday after one of the bank’s largest shareholders Qatar Holding moved to sell around 510 million pounds ($644 million) of its stock, cutting back on its crisis-era investment in the bank.

The sale was set to price at 141 pence per share, which was a discount of about 1.4% to Barclays’ closing share price on Monday, one of the banks acting on the deal said overnight.

Barclays was not immediately available for comment.

The share sale comes as Barclays embarks on a shake-up to cut costs and revive its share price, which has halved since Qatar first invested in 2008.

Barclays’ stock was last down 3.4% on the day at 138 pence and was set for its biggest one-day loss since Oct. 24.

Investors are parsing what the Qatari move means for Barclays CEO C. S. Venkatakrishnan and his executive team, just weeks before they are expected to unveil a new strategy to restore the bank’s flagging fortunes.

“The timing does look odd,” one institutional shareholder in Barclays told Reuters, adding that investors often traded “for reasons not necessarily related to the underlying security”.

“Let’s see what the strategy announcement brings in the new year,” the shareholder said.

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