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Barclays confirms talks for potential iShares sale

Barclays has confirmed it is holding talks for the sale of its iShares unit for a reported £5bn.

The firm has been gauging interest in the division of Barclays Global Investors, the world’s biggest fund manager with £1trn of assets under management.

Barclays released a statement on Monday stating that while it has held talks over the possible sale of the unit, no decision has yet been made on whether to proceed with any disposals.

The group says the move to boost its capital reserves would potentially help it avoid entering the UK government’s asset protection scheme, with banks given a deadline of March 31, 2009 to decide.

The statement reads: “Barclays said on Monday that it was in talks with the government over whether it would join the scheme, under which the government insures banks against losses on risky assets they hold in return for a fee. Barclays also said it had performed well so far this year. ‘Barclays businesses continue to perform well and have had a strong start to 2009.”

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