December 5, 2011 / 7:55 PM / 6 years ago

Lehman hearing may herald end of bankruptcy

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Lehman Brothers Holdings Corp is about to take its last step toward exiting a more than three-year-long bankruptcy process, a move that should enable it to begin paying back investors next year.

Lehman, which filed for bankruptcy in September 2008 and worsened the global financial crisis, is due to present its payout plan to Federal Bankruptcy Judge James Peck on Tuesday in a 10 a.m. hearing in Manhattan.

The defunct financial institution said in a recent court filing the plan essentially continues the efforts it has made while in bankruptcy to sell assets and maximize payments to creditors.

During the past three years, Lehman has sold billions of dollars’ worth of real estate and other assets as it worked with debt investors and former trading partners to hammer out a plan on how to divide the fraction of its assets that remained.

Lehman’s wind-down plan proposes to pay out $65 billion in periodic distributions to those creditors starting in what it previously forecast would be early next year.

After bankruptcy ends, the company will have a new board of directors, the members of which Lehman released in a court filing on Monday. They include executives from financial companies such as Capmark Financial Group Inc, American International Group Inc, Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Morgan Stanley.

They are as follows: Frederick Arnold, Robert Gifford, Thomas Knott, Sean Mahoney, David Pauker, Ronald Tanemura and Owen Thomas.

Shareholders, whose stock hit a high of $86.18 a share in February 2007 according to Reuters data, will receive nothing, as is typical in bankruptcy. Unsecured creditors, depending on the type of debt, will receive from 21.1 cents to 27.9 cents on the dollar, if Peck approves the plan at the hearing.

Peck, who is tasked with determining whether the bankruptcy plan is fair and equitable, is expected to set a date for Lehman’s exit from bankruptcy once he confirms the plan. Before it can start paying creditors, the company must sort through any other issues, such as other types of reserves it must set aside for other expenses.

Lehman heads into the hearing with support from more than 95 percent of its voting creditors and many of its major objections behind it. Lehman tackled some of its biggest opposition from financial firms such as Goldman Sachs and Paulson & Co in 2010 and 2011 by overhauling the plan several times and changing its payout schemes.

Lehman’s last hearing, in which the judge approved the details of the vote that were sent to voting creditors, lasted about three hours. The hearing is essentially the last time creditors can voice objections, however, and more than a week has been set aside on the judge’s calendar in case it is needed.


Many of Lehman’s biggest assets have been sold while the company was in bankruptcy, such as its investment banking operations, which went to Barclays Plc within days of its filing.

But more than half of its $65 billion in assets remains to be sold, including the rest of its stake in asset manager Neuberger Berman, its stake in apartment owner Archstone, two banking units and some private equity investments.

Lehman’s 47 percent stake in Archstone is seen as one of its most valuable assets. Last week, Equity Residential agreed to buy a 26.5 percent stake in the company for $1.325 billion from Bank of America Corp and Barclays, which together own most of the balance of the company.

Lehman has the right to match that offer and could try to buy the stake as it tries to maximize its investment. Archstone was sold for $22 billion at the peak of the housing boom and later helped bankrupt Lehman.

Reporting by Caroline Humer in New York; editing by Matthew Lewis and Andre Grenon

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