Barclays gets new interest for iShares

LONDON (Reuters) - Barclays Plc BARC.L said on Sunday it has received new interest from both trade and private equity buyers for its iShares funds business, responding to a media report that said BC Partners might trump last month's agreed bid from CVC Capital Partners.

A Barclays bank branch is seen in, central London on August 6, 2008. REUTERS/Alessia Pierdomenico

A Barclays spokesman said there had been “tremendous” interest in iShares from “both strategic and private equity” since April 9, when Barclays agreed to sell the asset management firm to private equity company CVC for 3 billion pounds ($4.4 billion) but kept the right to hunt for a better deal until June 18.

The spokesman said it was “way too early to speculate if there will be a better offer and from whom.”

The Sunday Times newspaper said that buyout firm BC Partners has lodged a 3.5 billion pound bid for iShares.

The newspaper said it was not clear whether CVC would be willing to match the higher offer from BC Partners, which it said was being advised by Perella Weinberg.

The Daily Telegraph said on its website on Sunday that Barclays has got at least two counter-offers for iShares, with private equity groups Apax, BC Partners and Hellman & Friedman all having been looking at trumping the CVC offer.

CVC has the right of first refusal to match any higher offer and Barclays will pay CVC 175 million pounds if it sells iShares to another bidder.

Both BC Partners and CVC declined to comment.

The Sunday Times said BC Partners’ move was expected to tempt other suitors into the fray.

It said these could include trade rivals such as Charles Schwab as well as other buyout firms, such as Colony Capital, the American private equity group.

Several companies showed an interest in iShares prior to the CVC deal, including Goldman Sachs GS.N, Bain Capital and a consortium of Hellman & Friedman and Apax Partners APAX.UL.

Barclays shares, which have increased in value by 78 percent over the last month, closed Friday at 281.25 pence, valuing the business at 23.6 billion pounds.

(Reporting by James Davey and Steve Slater; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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