Lehman Brothers’ European businesses plan to lodge claims for as much as $100bn against their former holding company in the coming weeks, as the winding up of the collapsed US bank gathers pace.
The filing of the demands, which are being prepared by PwC, represents the opening of another front in the battle to recoup billions of dollars from Lehman Brothers, following its bankruptcy almost a year ago.
Tony Lomas, a partner with PwC – which is acting as administrator of the defunct investment bank’s main European operations – described the range of claims as “exceptionally complex”. Many relate to past guarantees that the former parent company issued to its global subsidiaries, Mr Lomas said.
More than 100 former Lehman companies across Europe are demanding repayment for work completed as part of the filing, according to Mr Lomas, and claims must be filed by September 22 to comply with a deadline set by the US bankruptcy court. “We’re dealing with a large number of entities and therefore the claims could be as much as $100bn . . . we anticipate a large amount of further work in dealing with these claims.”
Since Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy last September, administrators have been working to quantify the bank’s position and verify claims of creditors, including clients. The sheer range of activities carried out by Lehman and the fact that its businesses are being handled by different administrators have complicated the process.
Information on claims and assets is being shared by rival companies, in a bid to speed up proceedings and avoid law suits.
Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy with debts of more than $613bn. Lehman Brothers International (Europe) held more than $30bn of client assets at the time of its collapse.
Clients of Lehman Brothers’ European operations will face delays in recovering up to $9bn of assets after a judge in England decided this month that he could not approve a scheme that would have helped customers with assets trapped in the defunct bank receive compensation more quickly.
PwC had proposed a scheme that would have divided more than 1,000 clients into three classes and allowed the administrators to deal with claims by class rather than individually. Mr Justice Blackburne decided that the English courts did not have the jurisdiction to modify Lehman Brothers International (Europe) clients’ claims.
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