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15 Sep 2008

Lehman Goes Banktrupt in High Profile Casualty Case

Lehman Brothers, Wall Street's fourth biggest investment bank has filed for bankruptcy, making it the largest and highest-profile casualty of the global credit crisis, with approximately $639 billion in assets.

The bank said the Chapter 11 filing will not include its broker-dealer operations and other units, including Neuberger Berman. Lehman is looking at selling its broker-dealer operations, and is still in advanced discussions with a number of potential buyers of its investment management division.

Investors in recent weeks had grown increasingly jittery about Lehman's $46 billion of mortgages and asset-backed securities, as well as its credit rating and its ability to raise capital.

Bankruptcy also represents a bad end to Chief Executive Dick Fuld's four-decade career at Lehman. Fuld, who piloted the investment bank through prior crises with aplomb, was widely seen as too slow to recognize Lehman's need to raise capital and shed bad assets.

Lehman listed its biggest unsecured creditors as Citigroup Inc, Bank of New York Mellon Corp, Aozora Bank, and Mizuho Financial Group Inc. Citi and Bank of New York Mellon are trustees for Lehman bonds.

The firm said that as of May 31, it owed about $110.5 billion on account of senior unsecured notes, about $12.6 billion on account of subordinated unsecured notes and about $5 billion on account of junior subordinated notes.

WhiteRock Says Markets May Be Rollercoastering but Recruitment is Accelerating

Recruiters at WhiteRock Group are seeing increased opportunity for job-seekers and hiring firms.

The meltdown in sub-prime mortgages, and the ensuing credit crunch, has led to uncertainty and turmoil throughout financial markets worldwide, says WhiteRock, but as with any deal, what’s bad news for one party is often very good news for another.

"There’s never been a better time to look for a job on Wall Street, or the Asian financial markets," says Gustavo Dolfino, founder and chief executive officer of WhiteRock Group. And amazingly, there’s never been a better time to be looking for talent either."

To understand why the recruitment business is booming even as the industry appears to be retrenching, one must understand that the overheated markets of the past few years have actually made recruiting more difficult.

Dolfino, who was quoted last week in Crain’s New York Business as well as the Wall Street Journal and is frequently interviewed for market perspective by CNBC, Bloomberg News and other financial news services, explains.

"With markets soaring these past few years, the price of top talent went through the roof. Everyone had golden handcuffs. Nobody wanted to work for anything but a top-tier firm. Now, you’ve got a situation where suddenly all those people who were ‘unhirable’ might be available. And they don’t necessarily want to work at a top-tier firm – those are the ones who’ve been in the paper everyday, mostly with bad news. Right now, the smart money is picking people up."

Dolfino pointed out that the greatest growth is currently in Asia, especially China, where "If you can get a CFO on the phone, you can get a job." He adds, "And we have everyone’s phone number."

To keep up with this still exploding demand, WhiteRock Group has opened three new offices, all in Asia, and brought on more top recruiting talent. The company is now nearly fifty professionals strong and expects to add to that number before year’s end.