Why Barclays prefers Abu Dhabi to GB
Some may think it's a funny old world in which Barclays would rather raise £5.8bn of vital new capital from the state investment funds and royal families of Qatar and Abu Dhabi than take cash from the British Treasury.
And the money being raised by Barclays isn't cheap, to put it mildly.
The £3bn of so-called reserve capital instruments it's selling to Abu Dhabi and Qatar pay an interest rate of 14% before tax and 10% after tax - only a bit cheaper, after tax, than the preference shares being bought by the British Treasury from other British banks.
But when you include the warrants attached to these reserve capital instruments, it's not obvious that this money is better value than what was on offer from the Treasury.
In some ways it looks pricier - because Abu Dhabi and Qatar have been given the right to buy 18.1% of Barclays shares at any time in the next five years at the current bombed-out share price or £3bn in total.
And £2.8bn of mandatorily convertible notes give the two buyers a dividend of 9.75%, and the ability to buy a further 33.5% stake in Barclays next June at a discount of a fifth to Barclays' share price over the past couple of days.
So Qatar and Abu Dhabi could together control just under a third of the entire bank.
That Barclays can raise the money at all is a testament to its relative strength compared to the other British banks - and in the course of today it hopes to raise another £1bn to £1.5bn from other investors.
But many jaws will drop at the disclosure that Barclays prefers what some may see as de facto nationalisation by oil-rich Middle Eastern states to nationalisation by Her Majesty's Treasury.
So why was Barclays so keen to pay a fat return to Abu Dhabi and Qatar rather than to the British taxpayer?
Well, unsurprisingly, it puts a high value on its commercial independence.
At almost any cost, it wanted to avoid taking money from the Treasury - because that would have imposed restrictions on how and what it could pay senior executives and when it could resume paying dividends to holders of its ordinary shares.
And taking British taxpayers' wonga would have made it more vulnerable to ministerial nannying that it should lend to those seen by the authorities as deserving.
And so far Barclays takeover of the US bits of the collapsed Wall Street investment bank, Lehman, seems to be paying off.
Barclays' announcement will be the last bit of relatively good news from a British bank for some time.
Next week we'll have trading updates from HBOS, Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds TSB - and more detail on the capital being raised from UK taxpayers by Lloyds and RBS.
There'll also be more on the takeover of HBOS by Lloyds.
But what may attract most attention will be ghastly results from HBOS and Royal Bank - where the horror story will take a new and scary turn.
We'll see the beginning of the end of the sorry tale of writedowns on subprime and other toxic credit investments, and the start of a long saga of losses (what are known as impairment charges) on conventional lending to businesses and homeowners.
Or to put it another way, the new problem for our banks is that we are careering into a recession that's making it harder for companies and households to pay their debts.
Even Barclays cannot be immune to those looming losses - though, as of now, it can probably allow itself just a small smile of self-congratulation, having avoided putting out the begging bowl to British taxpayers.