In the past couple of months, one of the world’s biggest investors, Barclays Global Investors, has
taken a bit punt on Australia’s two biggest retailers, Coles and
Woolies, with an investment of more than
$1.4 billion.

Barclays told the ASX and that it had spent more than
$850 million assembling a 5% stake in Woolies at an average
price of $15.94, an indication of the huge resources available to this
big global investment group. It’s a brave dip into the country’s best
performing retailer near the top of the market. Woolies shares closed
at $16.04 Tuesday.

Barclays also said a couple of days ago that it had spent more than
$537 million building a 5% stake in Coles, at an average of $9.24 a
share, a fairly rich price. But Barclays told the company and the ASX Tuesday that the sale of
14,751 shares at $9.03 a share meant it had fallen below the
5% threshold and was no longer a substantial shareholder.

Very odd . Why spend all this money and then lighten off and slip just
under the limit in the space of four days? The original notice was
lodged on 8 July and the ceasing notice was lodged yesterday, 12 July!
Coles’s shares closed at $9.24 Tuesday.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey