Friday, June 12, 2009

Investment Banking Brain Trust

Almost all large corporations involved in a merger, acquisition, or divestiture hire investment bankers to help with the process. These are the experts who help to value businesses, drum up buyers or sellers, and help ensure that the process runs smoothly. In exchange, they are paid handsomely for their efforts. Now, I understand that the sale of Lehman to Barclays was consummated in a rather hasty fashion. Still, it seems that Wall Street's best and brightest should have been capable of clarifying who owned the furniture and umbrellas.

From Bloomberg: "Lehman to Pay Barclays $6 Million for Its Own Desks, Chairs"

Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., nine months after selling its brokerage to Barclays Plc while in bankruptcy, is still in disputes with the British bank over who owns what, including the investment bank’s own furniture.

Lehman, once the fourth-largest investment bank, asked a bankruptcy judge in New York last week to let it pay Barclays $5.9 million to buy back desks, chairs, tables, cubicles, audio- video equipment and security paraphernalia it currently uses in a building at 1271 Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan.

The repurchase is necessary because “Barclays has asserted that certain of the office furniture, fixtures and equipment that is located in the building and used by the debtors was previously sold to Barclays,” Lehman said in a June 4 filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York.

The New York-based investment bank’s disputes with Barclays have ranged from whether the liabilities assumed by Barclays were less than what the parties assumed in setting the purchase price to who owns Lehman-logoed umbrellas.

Lehman, which filed the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history in September with assets of $639 billion, is trying to cut its overhead including lease costs as it liquidates. Its landlord has agreed to cut Lehman’s rent by $305 million to $21 million on an existing lease, partly in exchange for getting the furniture, according to the filing. Lehman first has to buy it back from Barclays, the third-biggest U.K. bank by assets.

The lease will be shortened and Lehman will rent less space under the proposed arrangement, a court filing shows.

Brandon Ashcraft, a Barclays spokesman, declined to immediately comment. Kimberly Macleod, a Lehman spokeswoman, declined to comment.

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