The 7% stake was bought for £3.5bn in 2008, after president Bob Diamond headed to the Middle East in a bid to raise funds to prevent the collapse of the bank. He secured a total £7.3bn cash injection, the remaining £3.8bn coming from Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.
Both investors were given discounted access to new shares and free warrants that could be converted into additional shares. Since the purchase the shares have risen over 60%.
The complicated holding structures employed by Abu Dhabi led to speculation the Sheik had sold his in 2009, but the fine print disclosure in the bank’s annual report last year listed him as the leading shareholder.
It is not known what has happened to the stake, but the Financial Times reports there was a 7% slump in the share price in the days running up to the disclosure of the sale on 26 June, suggesting at least some of it may have been placed in the market.
Earlier in the week the scandal-hit bank became embroiled in yet more controversy as a US energy regulator imposed a $470m fine on the bank for alleged market manipulation between 2006 and 2008. The bank is to fight the fine in court.
The bank has just hired Christina Sinclair, acting director of retail at the FCA, as global head of compliance as part of its efforts to repair its damaged reputation.