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Barclays Capital Pumps $1.6 Billion into Investment Vehicle

Barclays Capital, the investment banking arm of U.K. bank Barclays, said on Friday it will provide financing to a structured investment vehicle (SIV) it helped set up last year.

In a joint statement, Barclays Capital and London-based structured credit specialist Cairn Capital said they successfully restructured Cairn High Grade Funding I, a vehicle of Cairn Capital.

They did not disclose details of the amount needed for the restructuring, but a source familiar with the situation told CNBC.com that it was around $1.6 billion.

Barclays
AP
Barclays

The statement said the measure made necessary by "the closure of the asset-backed commercial paper market, on which Cairn High Grade Funding had relied for funding."

The funding will be used to redeem outstanding asset-backed commercial paper as it matures.

SIVs are off-balance sheet entities, commonly funded by commercial paper, which often are used to invest in higher-yielding U.S. mortgage-linked securities.

On Thursday, a source close to the matter told Reuters that Barclays has turned to the Bank of England as the lender of last resort for the second time this month after at technical breakdown in the U.K. clearing system.

The Bank of England said earlier on Thursday it had supplied almost 1.6 billion pounds ($3.2 billion) in its third largest loan this year as lender of last resort, but did not name the borrower or borrowers.

Barclays declined to confirm it had used the central bank's standing borrowing facility, but said in a statement late on Thursday it saw no liquidity issues in the U.K. market and was itself "flush with liquidity."

"People are sensitive to any emergency borrowing in the current climate but this looks more likely to have been a systems problem than a systemic one," said Steve Pearson, chief strategist at HBOS Treasury Services.

Technical Glitches Blamed

The source did not confirm whether Barclays was the only borrower or whether other banks had also been involved.

"The Bank of England sterling standby facility is there to facilitate market operations in such circumstances. Had there not been a technical breakdown, this situation would not have occurred," a spokesman for Barclays said in a statement.

"In these challenging times the dramatization of such situations is of no help to markets, their members or their customers," he said.

Several market participants said problems with the CREST settlement system on Wednesday may have been to blame for liquidity problems in European markets.

Euroclear, owner of the CREST interbank payments system, acknowledged there had been a technical problem but said no client had reported any settlement issues.

"We had a disruption early afternoon on Wednesday but we were back to normal within an hour," said Euroclear spokesman Denis Peters. "To ease clients' end-of-day transaction processing, we extended our deadline by an hour."

Third-Largest Lending This Year

The Bank of England's standing facility allows lending institutions to borrow unlimited amounts of money, but they must pay one percentage point above the base rate. It is not uncommon for banks to use the facility, but the recent global credit squeeze has prompted speculation it may have been used due to liquidity problems.

Use of the Bank's facility, which has already been tapped 14 times since the start of the year, does not necessarily mean an institution is in trouble, despite the fact that turbulence in credit markets has made banks reluctant to lend to each other.

The Bank of England's standby facility was last tapped just over a week ago to the tune of 314 million pounds. Sources familiar with the matter said then the borrower was also Barclays.

Standard & Poor's said earlier Barclays' AA rating was not affected by the reports of its exposure to structured investment vehicles (SIVs) but said that if current valuations of even highly rated mortgage-backed securities persist, banks including Barclays may face substantial mark-to-market losses.

Wednesday's lending of 1.556 billion pounds ($3.1 billion) was the third largest this year. The Bank of England lent almost 4 billion pounds on June 29 and just under 2 billion pounds on July 2.

The U.S. Federal Reserve recently lowered its down discount rate, for borrowing directly by banks, and encouraged U.S. banks to use its facility for similar reasons.