Barclays payments to Qatar would have been ‘unacceptable’ to market, London court hears

Former Barclays Chairman Marcus Agius, who is not accused of any wrongdoing, was the first witness to testify in the trial of four former Barclays executives. (Reuters)
Updated 19 February 2019

Barclays payments to Qatar would have been ‘unacceptable’ to market, London court hears

  • The UK Serious Fraud Office alleges that four bankers agreed to pay £322 million in secret fees to Qatar
  • It is claimed that Barclays agreed to pay Qatar more than double the standard 1.5 percent investment commission and hid this from other investors

LONDON: Former Barclays Chairman Marcus Agius could not remember if he was told the bank was paying higher fees to Qatar than other investors during an £11.2 billion ($14.6 billion) fundraising in the depths of the 2008 financial crisis, a London court heard on Tuesday.

However he said that paying such commission to one set of underwriters and not the other would have been “unacceptable to the market.” Agius is not accused of any wrongdoing.

He was the first witness to testify in the trial of four former Barclays executives, who include the then CEO John Varley.

“I would have wanted to understand why it would’ve been necessary,” he told the court.

The UK Serious Fraud Office alleges that the four bankers agreed to pay £322 million in secret fees to Qatar.

During the fraud trial — which began in January — the prosecution told the court that the then Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim demanded a personal fee for investing in Barclays.

It is claimed that Barclays agreed to pay Qatar more than double the standard 1.5 percent investment commission and hid this from other investors by making the payments through what prosecutors alleged were bogus Advisory Services Agreements, or ASAs, Southwark Crown Court heard.

Agius also told the court that he feared resignations from the board in 2008.

“Any one of them might have said, ‘This wasn’t what I signed up for, how do I get out of here?,’” he said.

“I’m clear that in June 2008 we at Barclays did not anticipate how much worse things were going to get. I don’t think we thought it was going to go as badly as it ultimately did.”


Alibaba-backed EV startup XPeng raises $400m for growth

Updated 2 min 41 sec ago

Alibaba-backed EV startup XPeng raises $400m for growth

HONG KONG, BEIJING: Chinese electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer XPeng, backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., said on Wednesday it has raised $400 million from investors including Xiaomi Corp. to fund its growth.

Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters earlier about the fundraising and about Xiaomi being an investor.

The fundraising comes at what bankers and industry insiders describe as an increasingly tough financing environment for Chinese EV startups which must jostle for attention in a crowded sector and produce convincing arguments about future profitability despite government cuts to EV subsidies and plans to phase them out.

XPeng, which announced the fundraising in a statement, did not comment on its valuation. But the sources said the latest fundraising valued the five-year-old firm, led by 42-year-old tech entrepreneur He Xiaopeng, at nearly $4 billion, higher than the 25 billion yuan ($3.57 billion) valuation in the last funding round.

The dollar fundraising comes as Guangzhou-based XPeng, which has mostly raised yuan-denominated capital, mulls going public in the coming years, with New York among one of possible listing venues, the people said. It is also considering Hong Kong and Shanghai’s Nasdaq-style tech board, said one of them.

With Xiaomi, XPeng will explore more applications of smartphone technologies on intelligent connected vehicles, said one of the sources.

“The signing of the new fundraising, which not only attracted new strategic investors such as Xiaomi Corporation but also received strong support from many of our current shareholders, is a renewed endorsement of our long-term strategy,” XPeng Chief Executive He said in the statement.

The proceeds will be mainly used for research and development of autonomous driving-related software, mass production of its G3 sport-utility vehicle model and P7 sedan, branding and expanding its retail network, said one of the people, who declined to be identified as the matter was private.

XPeng also secured “several billions” of yuan-dominated unsecured credit lines from banks including China Merchants Bank, China CITIC Bank and HSBC, the statement said, without specifying figures.