Business

Lehman looks to rivals for possible buyer

NEW YORK – Lehman Brothers has approached other major financial institutions about a potential acquisition or investment in the battered securities firm, people close to the situation said Thursday.

The nation’s No. 4 investment bank has been casting a wide net to find a potential buyer for all or part of the 158-year-old firm, bankers and executives at other financial companies said Thursday.

The bankers and executives asked not be named because they are not authorized to comment publicly.

Randy Whitestone, a spokesman for Lehman, declined to comment.

Bank of America Corp., France’s BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank AG and Britain’s Barclay’s Plc have been mentioned this week as potential buyers of Lehman, which Wednesday outlined a plan to sell and spin off assets to raise money.

The bankers and executives said Lehman’s leader, Richard Fuld, also has been stepping up talks with private equity firms such as Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and Bain Capital to acquire its investment management division that includes Neuberger Berman.

Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s shares tumbled again on Thursday after its rescue plan got a dismal reception from Wall Street and analyst reports cast doubt that the nation’s fourth-largest investment bank can survive.

Its shares fell $2.62 to $4.63 – down more than 93 percent from their 52-week high of $67.73.

On Wednesday, Lehman Brothers outlined a blueprint to sell off its well-respected investment management unit and spin off its commercial real estate assets. The strategy is part of a last-ditch effort to rescue the investment bank from bad bets on real estate-related holdings that have already laid low other storied Wall Street firms.

Lehman chief executive Fuld, 62, the longest serving CEO on Wall Street, also said the firm would examine all other options – including a sale of the company he joined right out of college.

“We remain committed to examining all strategic alternatives to maximize shareholder value,” Fuld said on a conference call on Wednesday.



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