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Top Barclays investor blasts 'capricious and hostile' regulators

By Chris Vellacott

LONDON (Reuters) - A top Barclays investor has blasted financial regulators for a "lack of stability or consistency" in capital requirements, warning they could undermine efforts to sell off government stakes in bailed out lenders.

David Cumming, head of equities at Standard Life Investments, said the regulatory regime "appears both capricious and hostile to banks and is in consequence raising the cost of capital for the banking sector, notably through a lack of stability or consistency in its policy on capital."

"From a taxpayer and investors viewpoint this must change. If not funding available for business both large and small will be reduced while funds realized from future government share sales will be materially below the levels achievable if we had a more objective and coherent regulatory policy," Cumming said in comments emailed to Reuters on Tuesday.

His comments came after Barclays said it is seeking to raise 5.8 billion pounds from its shareholders to help plug a larger than expected capital shortfall identified by Britain's financial regulator.

Standard Life Investments, the fund management arm of UK insurer Standard Life , is the fifth largest shareholder in Barclays, holding a 1.3 percent stake according to Thomson Reuters data.

The British government is expected to start selling some of its 39 percent stake in Lloyds Banking Group which, if successful, would mark a major milestone in Britain's recovery from the 2008 financial crisis. Taxpayers pumped 66 billion pounds into rescuing Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland .

The Bank of England's Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) said on Tuesday Barclays needed an extra 12.8 billion pounds to strengthen its capital reserves against potential market shocks, more than an estimate of about 7 billion a month ago, due mainly to tougher European rules on the way banks measure risks.

(Reporting by Chris Vellacott; Editing by Steve Slater)

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