Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. scrambles for a lifeline. A day after reporting a $3.8 billion (Rs18,430 crore today) loss for its fiscal third quarter (Q3), executives at the fourth largest US investment bank plead with rival firms to buy the company. Bank of America Corp., Japan’s Nomura Securities Co. Ltd, France’s BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank AG and Britain’s Barclays Bank Plc are rumoured to be among them.
Change of guard: A file photo of logos at the former Lehman Brothers, now Barclays Capital building in Times Square, New York. Eric Thayer / Reuters.
Negotiators want to have a deal in place by the time Asian markets open for trading on Monday morning. The fear is that Lehman’s banking partners could stop lending money that the 158-year-old firm needs to fund its operations. As the day wears on, potential bidders— including Goldman Sachs—signal they’re not interested. Nobody knows what might be lurking in Lehman’s books because of its heavy exposure to securities based on now-souring mortgages.
The Federal Reserve and the treasury department say they’re working to help resolve Lehman’s situation. But officials say it’s unlikely the government will offer financial support as it did in Bear Stearns Companies Inc.’s sale to JPMorgan Chase and Co. in the spring or when it seized mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac the previous weekend. Lehman shares skid $3.03, or 42%, to $4.22. That’s down nearly 94% from their 52-week high of $67.73.In other news: Washington Mutual Inc. announces that it will take a $4.5 billion write-down to cover loan losses in Q3, compared with $5.9 billion in Q2. The nation’s largest savings and loan firm says it has adequate capital.Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average drops 170 points in early trading, but reverses direction and closes up nearly 160 points, or around 1.5%, as crude oil prices sink and investors bet on some of the financial sector’s stronger players, such as JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo.