Doomed Lehman 'to be bought up and broken up'

2 September 2008

Lehman Brothers might be sold off to outside investors in the near future, analysts have suggested.

The buyouts, likely to involve private equity firms or foreign banks purchasing large stakes, come due to the Wall Street institution being severely weakened by the credit crunch.

Strong rumors have already linked the Korea Development Bank with such a deal, while other potential purchasers are said to include financial institutions from Japan and Canada, and London's HSBC.

Lehman is expected to announce further asset write-downs in its third-quarter declaration next month, with analysts' forecasts of the three-month losses ranging from $3-4 billion.

This would mean that six-month losses would approach $5 billion at the bank, a far cry from the $4.3 billion profits it earned over the same period in 2007.

Speaking to the Observer newspaper, analyst Dick Bove, who works at Ladenburg Thalmann, commented: "There is an opportunity to take the company and break it up and make much, much more by selling off the parts."

He added that private equity firms had previously spent much more than Lehman's current estimated market value, $8 billion, on cash injections to apparently "smaller" banks recently.

Banks have taken a financial hit of around $500 billion since the onset of the credit crunch, figures from the Economist magazine show.

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