Two days after Barclays failed to reach a deal that would have salvaged Lehman Brothers, the British bank announced Tuesday it will acquire Lehman Brothers' North American investment-banking and capital-markets businesses for $250 million in cash — far less than Lehman had hoped for.
Two days after Barclays failed to reach a deal that would have salvaged Lehman Brothers, the British bank announced Tuesday it will acquire Lehman Brothers’ North American investment-banking and capital-markets businesses for $250 million in cash — far less than Lehman had hoped for.
Barclays will also purchase Lehman’s New York headquarters and its two data centers in New Jersey for $1.5 billion.
The accord, announced to Lehman employees Tuesday afternoon, could save 8,000 to 10,000 Lehman jobs and allow Robert Diamond Jr., the president of Barclays, to attain his longtime goal of expanding his bank’s reach in the United States.
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“If you want to transform yourself from a minor player into a major firm, this is the time to do it,” said Roger Nightingale, a global strategist at Pointon York in London. “It’s so difficult to do that in an ordinary period.”
The deal must still be approved by a judge overseeing Lehman’s bankruptcy proceedings.
Lehman, staggered by losses on its commercial and residential real-estate assets, filed for bankruptcy protection of its holding company Monday.
Barclays is taking on Lehman’s large fixed-income trading operations, while avoiding a purchase of the large portfolio of toxic real-estate assets that ultimately forced Lehman into bankruptcy, people involved in the process said.
Lehman is still trying to sell the bulk of its investment-management division by Thursday or Friday.
Bain Capital and Hellman & Friedman, both private equity groups, are seen as the most likely buyers.
Lehman had hoped to get as much as $5 billion for its investment-management business, though it may not even receive that amount after the bankruptcy filing.
The steep discount on Lehman’s remaining assets stands in stark contrast to the $50 billion secured by Merrill Lynch when it sold itself to Bank of America on Sunday.
Diamond, an ex-Morgan Stanley banker, said repeatedly he saw an opportunity for Barclays in the credit-market turmoil and planned to grab market share from larger rivals.
Lehman is selling businesses, including its asset-management and brokerage arms, after the biggest Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing ever.
Diamond canceled a strategy briefing with analysts in New York on Tuesday and another in London on Monday to focus on the discussions with Lehman.
According to people with knowledge of the latest discussions, Lehman executives contacted Barclays executives late Monday and asked whether they would be interested.
Barclays executives are said to have jumped at the opportunity to buy Lehman’s investment-banking and trading platform, one they believe could bolster the fortunes of their American investment bank.
At Lehman’s Times Square headquarters Tuesday, Diamond and Lehman President Bart McDade went onto the trading floors to announce the tentative deal, according to a person present.
At around 2:30 p.m., McDade and Diamond made their way to a far corner trading desk on the fourth floor of Lehman’s offices to talk with employees there, according to the person who was present.
“I just want you guys to know this is going to be official,” Diamond said, in his cool, understated style, before he was interrupted. “You’re fired!” an employee barked, drawing laughter.
Diamond discussed the benefits of combining Barclays’ leading position in Europe with Lehman’s strength in the United States. Then he showered praise on McDade, making no mention of Lehman CEO Richard Fuld.
“I’ve been living with Bart for four days, and Bart is a great leader,” Diamond said. “Bart’s been fighting for you every step of the way.”
“God Save the Queen”
A few minutes later “God Save the Queen” blared over the loudspeaker.
Senior managers also met with traders, on their floors to discuss the new regime. They were told they would be paid 75 percent in cash and 25 percent in stock, eliciting a cheer.
Lehman employees were previously compensated with big chunks of now almost worthless stock.
It was not immediately clear whether any of the proceeds from the sales would flow to Lehman shareholders rather than creditors in the bankruptcy proceeding. In its filing, Lehman listed liabilities of $613 billion and assets of $639 billion.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.