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Opening Bell: 01.09.09

Lehman Private Equity Survives (WSJ)
Lehman's PE firm Lehman Brothers Merchant Banking has reached an agreement, and been allowed to continue its existence. "The business has $4.5 billion under management, and holds stakes in more than a dozen portfolio companies including a Spanish railcar manufacturer to a U.S. bicycle-components maker."
"The Lehman estate is also currently running a sales process for two other large Lehman private investment units -- an $800 million venture capital arm and a roughly $10 billion real-estate private equity group. Given the slack market for those businesses, one possibility would to retain interests in those holdings as well, according to a person familiar with those deals."
Icahn Thinks Bankruptcy Reform Would Help Banks (Reuters)
This is Icahn babbling on for roughly four/four and a half hours to the effect that bankruptcy laws aren't as efficient as they could be. His (end) point is a solid one though:
"Private investment is a far more appropriate agent to revive these institutions, yet little is coming in," he said, the reason being that distressed assets on bank balance sheets have artificially low values because of bankruptcy laws."
It's Jobs Day (Bloomberg)
We'll see the numbers at 8:30 today, Consensus is calling for anywhere between -300,000 and -750,000.
Gators > Sooners For BCS Title (AP)
If you have a pulse you should all ready know this; that aside it was a decent game but it wouldn't rate top ten of all time by any means.
TARP Program Under Fire (WSJ)
"The report faults Treasury on a variety of fronts: having no ability to ensure banks lend the money they have received from the government; having no standards for measuring the success of the program; and for ignoring or offering incomplete answers to panel questions."
What's horribly funny about all of this is that the panel thought the banks were taking the loans to lend it back out to the public, and then, for whatever reason, they thought they were going to get these people to answer questions. You just read that paragraph and kind of have to stare at it in a wondrous disbelief, like at any moment fairies and unicorns might pop into reality and everyone on the Hill can just live in their magic happy little land.
In related news, Bloomberg has an expose on how Paulson can't get his dick out of the sand long enough to make some money for the US Government, because apparently that too was the point of the infusion. I have to give it to Goldman though, credit where credit is due and all:
"The Treasury would have held warrants for 116 million shares of Goldman Sachs under Buffett's terms, which would be equivalent to a 21 percent stake when added to those currently outstanding. Instead, the dilution is 2.7 percent under the Treasury plan. Blankfein is the company's biggest individual investor, with 2.08 million shares worth about $178 million today, according to Bloomberg data."

--William Richards