A small group of firms that waded into the morass in the aftermath of the financial crisis, including Paulson & Co., King Street Capital Management LP, Varde Partners Inc., Halcyon Asset Management LLC and Solus Alternative Asset Management LP have made billions of dollars trading in the debt. As claims are being paid out, often at a multiple of initial estimates, investors that have spent years analyzing the bankruptcy are ploughing money back into newly available loans, such as those between the investment bank’s Hong Kong and U.S. units, fueling a rally unmatched by stocks and high-risk bonds. [Bloomberg]
Remember Joe Gregory? Former Lehman Brothers president? Used to commute to the office from Long Island via helicopter? Was publicly dressed down by Dick Fuld on at least one occasion for leaving the house wearing a hideous green suit? He voluntarily resigned in June 2008, and since he technically wasn’t on site when the firm bit the big one, felt he was entitled to $233 million in back pay. And yet, despite filing a claim for his money over four years ago, has seen not one dime! Presumably the estate will get to his case soon (Gregory’s claim remains outstanding, so there’s still hope) but in the meantime, Big G’s gotta put food on the table. He put his 15,000-square-foot home on the market last year for $22 million and now is holding a fire sale of all his furniture. Read more »
Last Hours As Lehman Brothers Were A Time For Drinking, Smoking, Watching In Amazement As Pairs Of Shoes Emerged From Under Women’s Desks Like Out Of A Clown CarBy Bess Levin
“Sometime around Sunday, 4 o’clock or 5 o’clock, we started getting e-mails saying the deal is dead: no Barclays. We’re gonna file. And that’s where the panic reached a peak. If the bank was going to file for bankruptcy, we wouldn’t be able to enter the building on Monday morning. That’s really the reason everybody headed back to 745 Seventh Ave.: to collect whatever personal items they might have. The trading floor was packed, but people were not working. Some were crying. Some were drinking beer. Some were doing shots of tequila. Most of them were smoking. There was total chaos. I just saw a lot of people packing boxes, taking pictures of their families, clients’ business cards. The girls were just packing boxes and boxes of shoes. I discovered that most females tend to have multiple pairs of shoes under their desks. I had no idea until that day.” [BusinessWeek]
Prosecutors got bored investigating Lehman Brothers pretty fast, but not so the SEC, which persisted until last year in trying to come up with something, anything to throw at Dick Fuld, at great personal risk and to no avail. Some (Mary Schapiro, for one) are still puzzled by this. He has George Canellos to thank. Read more »
Bloomberg has a fantastic article today about how Lehman’s decaying corpse is suing a bunch of former clients, many of them wee and sympathetic nonprofits, who hosed Lehman when they terminated swaps in September 2008. Some of these lawsuits turn on disputes over when those clients, or their consultants, should have valued the swaps for termination purposes, and I was looking forward to reading Bloomberg’s account of which of those customers used the SWPM <go> function on their terminals and on what dates, but for some reason that wasn’t mentioned.
The basic story is that clients had trades with Lehman that were in-the-money to Lehman, and when Lehman went bankrupt the clients terminated the trades and wired Lehman termination payments that Lehman now rather belatedly finds inadequate. You could understand why the clients would want to get out of these trades: for one thing, the trades had moved against the clients (thus being in-the-money to Lehman) and seemed likely to move further against them1; for another, if the trades did move back in the clients’ favor, what were the odds that a freshly bankrupted Lehman would pay the clients what they were owed?
Is Lehman right that the clients underpaid? Oh, I mean, of course. I don’t have the details of the trades but you can reason this out from first principles. Here:
- It’s September 15, 2008, and Lehman has just filed for bankruptcy.
- You owe Lehman some money.
- How much you owe them is a somewhat subjective matter that depends on what termination date you pick, what model you use, whom you ask for a quote, etc.
- You know, with some certainty, that everyone at Lehman who knows anything about your trade, and also everyone who doesn’t, has bigger things to worry about, like stealing office supplies on their way out the door.
- You can basically write them a check and enclose a note saying “here’s what we think we owe you,” and see if they write back.
- How big is the check?