Amanda Staveley, the high profile businesswoman who has just brokered the potential takeover of Premier League football club Newcastle United, has accused Barclays of misleading her as she helped secure the billions of pounds that saved the bank during the 2008 financial crisis.
Staveley is suing Barclays for up to £1.5bn after her client, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, invested £3.25bn as part of an emergency fundraising 12 years ago.
The bank then concealed it was offering “manifestly worse terms” to Staveley when compared to those given to Barclays’ largest investor, the state of Qatar, the businesswoman’s firm PCP alleged to the high court on Monday.
Staveley claims that in order to secure the rescue finance, Barclays agreed to Qatari demands to be paid an additional “advisory” fee of £280m; a “yet further fee of £66m” and providing “an entirely unsecured loan” of £2bn.
High court documents filed by PCP allege: “The Qataris … sought ever more onerous terms. Ultimately they required a loan for $3bn, almost exactly the same sum as that for which they were offering to subscribe (£2bn). They did not specify a purpose for the loan. Moreover, they demanded it on an unsecured basis; for a term of two years.”
The document added: “[A £280m payment of fees by Barclays to Qatar was a] sham … in the sense that the document does not reflect – and instead conceals – the parties’ true agreement in a particular respect: whilst they purported to record an agreement that Barclays would pay substantial sums for ‘advisory services’, in fact those sums were paid for by Qatar’s investment in Barclays.”
Joe Smouha, QC for PCP, told Mr Justice Waksman that Staveley’s claims arose out of the recapitalisation of Barclays during the financial crisis in October and November 2008.
“Barclays deliberately misled not only PCP but also its own shareholders and the market in this regard,” he said.
PCP’s court filings added: “[Roger Jenkins, Barclays’ then chairman of investment banking] met Ms Staveley at his home on 23 October 2008. Ms Staveley asked whether the proposed investment would cause a problem to Qatar Holding, Barclays’ then largest shareholder … Mr Jenkins replied that there was no need to worry about the position of the Qatari investors as they were looking to participate in the capital raising for up to £3bn and that they were ‘getting the same deal’.”
PCP was paid a fee of £30m for its work on the fundraising, of which £11m was then paid out to other advisers, the company’s filings said.
The firm’s documents also claim that the company gave up better terms worth up to £1.5bn as it believed it was aligning its deal with the one agreed with Qatar, while they also say PCP missed out on fees that would have been due had it been offered the same terms as Qatar.
The exact nature of any loss is likely to involve hours of complex argument in the court.
A Barclays spokesman said: “We believe the claim is misconceived and without merit and Barclays will be vigorously defending it.”
Jeffery Onions QC, who is leading Barclays’ legal team, said the underlying proposition that Barclays’ bosses chose to jeopardise their livelihoods and perpetuate a serious fraud was “highly improbable”.
The bank will summarise its defence to the court on Tuesday.
The hearing, which is being shown online, is expected to last about two months and follows a high profile criminal case.
In February, three former Barclays’ bosses were cleared of fraud over the investment made by Qatar at the height of the banking crisis.
The Serious Fraud Office had alleged that lucrative terms given to Qatar were hidden from the market and other investors through bogus advisory service agreements.
But Jenkins, Thomas Kalaris, the former head of its wealth division, and Richard Boath, the lender’s ex-European financial institutions head, who are all in their 60s, were acquitted by jurors following a five-month trial at the Old Bailey.
The civil court trial involving PCP had been postponed several times to allow the criminal trial to proceed.
Staveley has, in recent months, been involved in brokering a deal which could see a Saudi consortium take control of Newcastle United.