CF Partners’ Secret Talks a Fantasy, Barclays Lawyer Says

Barclays Plc lawyers told a London court it was a “fantasy” that employees communicated in secret to make a competing bid for carbon-trading firm Tricorona AB in 2010.

CF Partners (U.K.) LLP, which is suing Barclays over the $173 million deal, argues the bank used confidential information acquired while it was advising CF Partners plan to take over Tricorona. The company has previously introduced transcripts of phone conversations of Barclays employees talking about the takeover.

CF Partners says the calls indicate Barclays discussed buying Tricorona as early as 2009, while urging caution because of an exclusivity agreement with CF Partners, a London-based trading firm. The company, which focuses on renewable energy, is seeking at least 82.4 million euros ($107.8 million), according to court papers.

“The case that has evolved about a secret line of communication is a fantasy,” Ewan McQuater, the bank’s lawyer, said at today’s hearing.

The length of the trial, scheduled for mid-May, was extended by two weeks to two months at today’s hearing.

“This case is entirely without merit and Barclays will be contesting it vigorously,” Aurelie Leonard, a spokeswoman for London-based Barclays, said in an e-mailed statement. “Being a leader in emissions trading, Barclays already had a relationship with Tricorona before it had any involvement with CF Partners.”

The bank said it didn’t have an advisory relationship with CF Partners.

Kevin Smith, a spokesman for CF Partners, declined to comment.