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Bank unveils rights issue plans

Barclays is to sell £4.5 billion of new shares in order to improve its balance sheet.The bank revealed today that overseas investors would take up the bulk of the stock offer, known in the industry as a "rights issue".According to the bank's chief executive, John Varley, the extra revenue created by the sale would allow Barclays to offset losses from the credit crunch and acquire new businesses in the future.Interested parties for the shares include Japanese bank Sumitomo Mitsui and Qatar Holdings."Significant opportunities therefore exist to attract flows of new business at expanded margins consistent with Barclays' strategy to seek higher growth over time by diversifying its profits base," the bank added in a statement.The share sale at Barclays follows a similar move last month from rivals RBS, whose business has also been markedly affected by the credit crunch.A record £24 billion was raised by the Scottish bank, which sold around 97 per cent of the new shares it created.

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