Lehman sale approved

A US bankruptcy judge approved the sale of Lehman Brothers Holdings’ prized investment management unit to a group of managers and employees.

A US bankruptcy judge approved the sale of Lehman Brothers Holdings’ prized investment management unit to a group of managers and employees.

The sale was worth $920m (€658m) to the Lehman bankruptcy estate, a Lehman lawyer said. It includes the Neuberger Berman money management business.

“We are thrilled with the opportunity to move forward as an independent firm following Judge (James) Peck’s final, formal approval of the purchase of Neuberger Investment Management by its management and employees,” Neuberger spokesman Randy Whitestone said yesterday.

“Today’s decision ends a period of uncertainty for what remains a strong and vibrant business.”

The employee group won a contested auction earlier this month, beating two other bids. One of those bids came from the private equity firms Bain Capital Partners and Hellman & Friedman, and the other from Crossmark Investment Advisers.

The bid from the Bain and Hellman group would have been worth about $745m (€530m). The lawyer said Crossmark’s bid was worth less.

Lehman was forced into bankruptcy in September. Neuberger Berman was the last big asset to be sold off in the bankruptcy.

Lehman has already agreed to sell key US assets to Britain’s Barclays Capital for $1.35bn (€965m) and its Asian, European and Middle Eastern businesses to Japan’s largest brokerage, Nomura Holdings for $2bn (€1.4bn).

US Bankruptcy Judge James Peck also approved the transfer of $7bn (€5bn) in cash and securities to Barclays PLC. The assets were inadvertently caught at Lehman in the week after its bankruptcy filing as its broker-dealer was liquidated and customer assets were moved.

Lawyers said the assets were owed to Barclays as part of repayment of a short-term loan for $45bn (€32bn) that the British bank gave Lehman to keep its broker-deal operating.

The transfer will include $1.27bn (€900m) in cash plus securities with a face value of $5.7bn (€4bn).

Many of the securities were mortgage-backed securities, but lawyers would not say in court how much their value had declined.

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