By William D. Cohan
NEW YORK (Fortune) — Aback the best able bodies in American commercialism convened at the New York Federal Reserve Bank’s Italianate palazzo in lower Manhattan on Friday evening, September 12, to try to save Lehman Brothers from assertive death, what confronted them was annihilation beneath than the adeptness that whatever accomplishments they took – or did not booty – that weekend could advance the cyberbanking arrangement into the abyss.
Over the aing demanding 72 hours, CEOs and their top assembly from Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500), Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley (MS, Fortune 500), JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500), Citigroup (C, Fortune 500), Acclaim Suisse and added firms formed alongside Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner, afresh the admiral of the New York Federal Reserve and now Barack Obama’s best to alter Paulson at Treasury. Three months to the day that the bankers emerged from that acute weekend, though, it is bright that the ethics and egos of the participants in those affairs accept reordered the American business landscape.
On Friday September 12, there were four aloft advance banks. Today, there are none apparent as such. On that Friday, the Dow broke able-bodied aloft 11,000. Today, it is 3,000 credibility lower. On September 12, a anatomy of “compassionate conservatism” was still the article of the Bush administration.
Today, the federal government has nationalized Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and AIG. It has bailed out banks with hundreds of billions of dollars of aborigine money, purchased some of their best baneful assets, and no one is abiding area this abashing of the curve amid the accessible and clandestine area will end. By axis the alarm aback and attractive at what transpired during that weekend, one can see how a transformation of the U.S. cyberbanking industry occurred about in a flash, with the after-effects alien alike to bodies in the room.
“We went into the weekend alive it was actual dark,” explained a government official. “There was cipher that was allotment of this action that did not accept the apple was awfully brittle and that Lehman was systemic and that the after-effects of its absence would be traumatic. There was cipher in that allowance – from the Treasury, the Fed or from the Federal Reserve Lath or from the clandestine area – that could accept told you actually what would appear or what the after-effects would be. And I fabricated it bright over and over and afresh in that allowance that if we didn’t breach this, aggregate abroad would be harder to accord with. Solving this was not activity to accomplish all the added problems go abroad but we did not feel we had the adeptness to insulate the markets from the broader after-effects of default.”
FRIDAY EVENING SEPTEMBER 12 Paulson pulls the blaze alarm
Henry Paulson, the Treasury secretary, and Christopher Cox, the administrator of the SEC, flew up from Washington on Friday for a 6 p.m. affair with Geithner to altercate what the plan for the weekend would be. Meanwhile, Ben Bernanke, the administrator of the Federal Reserve, backward in Washington to alike a acknowledgment with the leaders of added axial banks about the globe. Activity into the weekend, there were two abeyant suitors for Lehman Brothers – Coffer of America and London-based Barclays. With Geithner at his side, at 6:15 p.m., Paulson stood afore the accumulated Wall Street CEOs and delivered a acrid message, according to a antecedent there. “There will be no bailout for Lehman,” Paulson said. “The alone accessible way out is a private-sector solution.”
At that moment, Ian Lowitt, Lehman’s CFO aback June 2008, knew it was over for his firm. That night “[government] officials…indicated that emergency federal allotment would not be accessible to balance Lehman Brothers and accommodate the clamminess bare for its operations,” he wrote in an affirmation accompanying the firm’s September 15 defalcation filing.
Unlike what the government did for Bear Stearns, in March, there would be no aborigine money fabricated accessible to abutment a Lehman bailout. According to one government official, there was a lot of address activity into the weekend both from the Congress and from bodies about the Treasury about how the band-aid for Lehman should not blot accessible money. Whether that was a able negotiating tactic or the band in the coffer that would not be crossed, the Treasury secretary had set the absolute accent for the weekend. The aing of Lehman Brothers, a 158-year-old aing with origins as a dry-goods abundance and affection broker in Montgomery, Alabama, adequate alone with the bodies sitting about the table in the Fed’s adorned boardroom at 33 Liberty Street. Appear up with a clandestine bazaar plan in 48 hours to save the aing from defalcation or ache the after-effects of a adverse disentangle of Wall Street’s circuitous and baleful cyberbanking relationships.
After Paulson appear that there would be no government bailout for Lehman, he and Geithner laid out three accessible accident affairs for the titans of Wall Street to assignment on during the weekend. Door Cardinal One: Investigate whether there could be a “private-sector defalcation consortium” that would somehow accounts a bit-by-bit auction of Lehman’s assets alfresco of bankruptcy. Door Cardinal Two complex the accumulated bankers carefully analytical Lehman’s best damaged assets and afresh basic a bunch to accounts those that neither Coffer of America nor Barclays basic to take, acceptance an accretion of the of Lehman to occur. Door Cardinal Three was to contemplate how the chargeless apple could accommodate the accident in the accident there was no band-aid possible. The aboriginal abstraction bound became bottomless and nobody, at the outset, had the aboriginal absorption in actively because the third scenario.
The focus of the affairs became how to accounts the Lehman assets that neither Coffer of America (BAC, Fortune 500) nor Barclays (BCS) wanted. (Representatives of Coffer of America, Barclays and Lehman were in and about the Fed that weekend but were not included in abounding of the affairs of the added accumulation because of their anemic in the outcome.)
LATE FRIDAY NIGHT Coffer of America bows out
Earlier in the week, Paulson had alleged Ken Lewis, the CEO of Coffer of America, and asked him to booty one for the aggregation by attractive actively at affairs Lehman. (Some bodies accept that Paulson additionally gave his above colleagues at Goldman Sachs an aboriginal blink at the Lehman books, too.) Assembly from Coffer of America flew up from its accumulated address in Charlotte, North Carolina and met with Lehman bankers at the midtown offices of Sullivan & Cromwell, Lehman’s acknowledged advisors. Coffer of America spent a few canicule reviewing Lehman’s $85 billion book of bartering and residential real-estate loans. “We ample that the $85 billion in afflicted loans was at atomic $10 billion underwater,” Lewis told Fortune (see “A appointment with Coffer of America CEO Ken Lewis”). He doubted the bulk of Lehman’s bigger assets – its investment-banking and asset-management businesses – would awning the $10 billion hole. He proposed to Paulson – in a late-night buzz chat – that the government booty about $65 billion off Lehman’s books. Without that akin of assistance, Coffer of America couldn’t accede affairs Lehman.
But the Coffer of America angle was above what the Fed or Treasury could realistically accede accustomed the attributes of the assets Lewis basic the Fed to accounts and because it was added than alert the $29 billion anchored accommodation the Fed had fabricated to JPMorgan to facilitate its accretion of Bear Stearns. Aback Paulson told Lewis the government wouldn’t help, Lewis put his pencil bottomward – for the moment. He did appear to New York that weekend but would never become allotment of the affairs at the Fed.
SATURDAY MORNING Lehman’s books get scrubbed
With Coffer of America out of the mix, the bankers at the New York Fed advised a angle by Barclays, whereby the British coffer would admission all of Lehman except for the firm’s bartering real-estate asset book, which had a face bulk of $40 billion (before writedowns).
The accumulated bankers spent abundant of Saturday poring over Lehman’s bartering real-estate portfolio in hopes of award a way to accounts the $40 billion of assets that Barclays did not appetite to acquire. The dodgy assets larboard abaft bare a band of disinterestedness beneath them for the actual article to accept any achievement of viability. According to a actor in the weekend’s delirious meetings, Lehman had 2,400 absolute acreage “positions.”
Lehman CEO Richard Fuld and Lowitt had appear on the antecedent Wednesday that the bartering real-estate assets would be apparent bottomward to $33 billion – from $40 billion. But, on Saturday, as mortgage-securities experts from Citigroup, Acclaim Suisse, Deutsche Coffer and Goldman Sachs analyzed the portfolio, they bound realized, according to one participant, “the able marks on the assets should allegedly accept been $12 billion lower,” or $21 billion, rather than $40 billion, about a 50% abatement to their apparent bulk (notwithstanding the Wednesday revision). “There wasn’t a altercation amid the accumulation about what the write-down should be,” he said.
But there was some altercation about the $21 billion appraisement depending on whether some institutions would accept to mark them to market. As a compromise, the four banks instead recommended to the added banks in the bunch that Lehman’s real-estate portfolio be admired at about $25 billion. The aperture the bunch of banks had to ample was afterpiece to $15 billion, acceptation that anniversary one would charge to accommodate about $1 billion to accounts the bartering real-estate assets larboard abaft by Barclays in what would abide of Lehman Brothers. The banks additionally knew that they would accept to booty a write-down on their loans as the assets were awash into the bazaar over time. But to facilitate the Barclays accord they were accommodating to do it. “There was a absolute affair that the annihilation of Lehman would advance to absolute problems for everybody else,” one broker said.
SATURDAY AFTERNOON Thain gets busy
While best of Wall Street was hunkered bottomward at the New York Federal Reserve to analysis Lehman’s books, Greg Fleming, the admiral of Merrill Lynch and a above cyberbanking institutions banker, had been advancement his boss, John Thain, Merrill’s CEO, to alarm Ken Lewis to allocution about a accord amid the two firms. Fleming had developed anxious during the anniversary as Merrill’s banal fell to $17.05 per share, from $28.50 per share. Fleming additionally knew that Lewis had continued coveted Merrill Lynch and that Fleming’s antecedent boss, Stan O’Neal, had no absorption in such a deal. “It’s an iconic name,” Lewis told Fortune about Merrill Lynch and the “one company” he basic “to annular out” his cardinal eyes for Coffer of America. He said owning Merrill Lynch “would accord us a aloft attendance in advance cyberbanking as able-bodied as abundance management.”
Thain, who had been at the Fed on Friday night, knew by Saturday morning that Coffer of America was out of the coursing for Lehman, and he had additionally absitively that Lehman was not activity to be saved. If Lehman declared bankruptcy, he ample Merrill would be the aing domino to fall. He had watched the accumulation of bankers “pummel” Bart McDade, Lehman’s president, with questions about Lehman’s assets “and absitively he did not appetite to be next,” according to a broker there. “It became bright to me that it would accomplish faculty to analyze options for us,” Thain said in the columnist appointment afterwards announcement the deal.
Thain got Lewis’ corpuscle buzz cardinal from Fleming, stepped out of the affair and alleged the Coffer of America CEO. “We began to allocution about the befalling over the phone,” Lewis said. “Then a few hours later, we were talking about it in person.” Rumors began circulating at the New York Fed that Thain and Lewis were talking about a deal. In the interim, Lewis flew up by clandestine jet from Charlotte to New York. They agreed to accommodated secretly in Coffer of America corporate-owned accommodation at the TimeWarner Center, at Columbus Circle. “It didn’t booty but about two abnormal to see the cardinal implications or [the] absolute implications” of the deal, Lewis said. “It was acutely a adequately abbreviate aeon of time, actual acute and we saw a lot of anniversary other.” Afterward his alarm to Lewis, Thain said the two men “quickly” accomplished “the cardinal aggregate fabricated a huge bulk of sense, and the befalling to put this transaction calm actually was [so] different that we both absitively we basic to booty the opportunity.” The cipher name for the accord was “Project Alpha.”
At his ancillary as an adviser Lewis had J. Christopher Flowers, the arch of his own private-equity aing that specialized in cyberbanking services. Flowers, an ex-Goldman partner, seemed to accept advised the books of about every Wall Street aing by September 2008, including Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch. “[Flowers] had done actually an bulk of due activity on Merrill Lynch adequately recently,” Lewis said. “It was very, actual extensive. They had looked at the marks actual comprehensively. This accustomed us to accept him and his aggregation as an advisor, and aloof amend the advice they already had. That was one of the key capacity to actuality able to do this as bound as we did.” Flowers was actual adulatory of what Thain and his aggregation had done in acceding of address assets including Merrill’s 25% anemic in Bloomberg and a $30.6 billion portfolio of troubled, mortgage-backed balance for 22 cents on the dollar.
Lewis bent he had to move bound to win Merrill. Not alone had he basic to own the aing for years, he additionally was acquainted that Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley were in the mix. Merrill had accomplished out to Morgan Stanley about a deal. Morgan Stanley anesthetized bound – reportedly because the aing absitively there artlessly was not abundant time. Separately, on Saturday morning at the Fed, assembly of Goldman Sachs accomplished out to above Goldman accomplice Peter Krause, Merrill’s anew recruited arch of strategy, to see whether Merrill would accede acceptance Goldman to accomplish a 9.9% boyhood advance in Merrill. This set off a acrimonious agitation – according to accession who witnessed it – amid Krause and Fleming about whether Merrill should accompany the Goldman accord or the Coffer of America deal. For Goldman, the abstraction was to save a battling and to accumulate the acerbity of the looming storm at bay. “I anticipate about it in acceding of the Abundant Barrier Reef,” one Goldman controlling said. “If you anticipate of Bear as actuality an afar allotment of apricot at the far eastern acme of the reef. Afresh Lehman is a bit afterpiece in and afresh Merrill is a bit closer. Afresh Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs are on the coffer but still appealing aing to the water. Aback you accept a tsunami advancing in, it’s accepting to be appealing uncomfortable.”
SATURDAY NIGHT The gloves appear off
Merrill and Coffer of America admiral were closing in on an all-stock deal, in which Merrill shareholders would accept $29 per allotment in Coffer of America stock, which admired Merrill at $50 billion, a 70% exceptional to area Merrill’s banal had broke the antecedent Friday. Meanwhile, aback at the Fed, tempers started to flare. The accumulated bankers were still angry with how to bulk the Lehman real-estate assets that Barclays basic to leave behind. “It was a catechism of how abundant disinterestedness we bare to put up,” one broker said, “to accomplish the Barclays accord fly.” This led to accretion tensions on all sides. At one point, backward Saturday night, Gary Shedlin, a M&A broker at Citigroup, faced off adjoin his old boss, Michael Klein, who was there apery Barclays and his client, Archibald Cox Jr., who was appointed administrator of Barclays Americas in April 2008.
“How abundant disinterestedness do you charge to accession to do the deal?” Shedlin asked Klein.
“Why is that important?” Klein attack back. “Why do you charge to apperceive that?”
“You’re authoritative an action for this aggregation and we’ve got to apperceive how you’re activity to accounts it,” Shedlin countered.
“We will not accept to accession any incremental basic as allotment of this transaction,” Klein said definitively. The two men glowered at anniversary added afore axis to beneath confrontational matters. (Shedlin accepted the barter to Fortune; Klein did not acknowledge to requests to be interviewed.)
Bankers formed best of the night to put calm a appellation area for how they would all accede to abutment Barclays’ accretion of best of Lehman Brothers. Some banks – such as BNP-Paribas and Coffer of New York – were not so abiding they basic to participate, causing Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase to advise them. “You’re either in the club or you’re not,” he said, according to one banker. “And if you’re not you’d bigger be able to acquaint the secretary why not.” Still, a accord seemed close.
SUNDAY MORNING A banderole on the play
On Sunday morning, the controlling accumulation re-assembled at the Fed at nine o’clock. “Everything was accessible to go on Sunday morning,” one actor said. “People were blessed with the appellation sheet, so there was a achievable accord on the table.” Steve Shafran, a arch adviser to Paulson and an ex-Goldman Sachs partner, told a accumulation of Lehman Brothers admiral at the Fed that morning, “It looks like we may accept the outlines of a accord about the financing.” Afterwards which, the Lehman bankers anticipation they had adored their firm.
The Barclays accord adapted the absolution of the Cyberbanking Casework Authority, in London – the UK agnate of the SEC. So Paulson batten with his UK counterpart, Alistair Darling, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and to the FSA. He afresh summoned McDade, Lehman’s president, to the New York Fed and told him at about 9:45 a.m., “Deal’s off. The FSA has angry it down.” At almost 10 o’clock, Paulson and Geithner a the bankers at the Fed.
The FSA would not animadversion on its decision, but a cardinal of the participants at the Fed on Sunday morning said the affidavit accustomed to them by Paulson for the FSA’s bounce ranged from “the all-embracing admeasurement of the abeyant acknowledgment that Barclays was demography on and whether Barclays was in acceptable abundant appearance to do it” to the actuality that the “FSA was attractive for some affectionate of a cap to abstain U.K. contagion, and the Fed had aloof said, ‘No abetment for Lehman.’ The FSA afresh assured based on the bulk of diligence, the accident profile, and the abridgement of any abetment from the U.S. that they were not activity to let it proceed.” There was additionally the advancement fabricated that Barclays “wasn’t actually that austere about accepting FSA approval” activity into the weekend alive that there ability be an befalling to buy what it basic from Lehman afterwards at a lower price. (Barclays did not accomplish its arch admiral complex with the Lehman accord accessible for comment.)
The Lehman aggregation was devastated by the news. “We anticipation we had a barter and acquainted acceptable about it and anticipation we were in the adapted place,” explained a Lehman banker, “and afresh to accept the rug pulled out from beneath us afterwards we were led to accept that the Street was there on the financing, it was aloof appalling from our perspective.” The abashed Lehman aggregation alternate to their address at 745 Seventh Avenue to artifice its aing moves.
Paulson afresh told the actual bankers, according to one, “Let’s alpha talking about what the apple will attending like if Lehman goes under. Let’s focus on a band-aid for stabilizing the markets.” Amid the bodies still present for Paulson’s Sunday morning accent was John Thain. Afterwards Paulson and Geithner larboard the admiral to contemplate what they could do as a bunch to accumulate the world’s markets from annoyed completely, the accumulated alpha males began talking about Merrill Lynch in advanced of Thain, as if he weren’t there. “Merrill could be the aing to go,” one broker said. “And Thain wasn’t adage anything,” a actor said. “If Thain hadn’t been there that morning, the rumors actually would accept been flying,” Shedlin said. A few account later, Thain got up and larboard the allowance “and he never comes back,” one actor said. Thain and his aggregation were focused on negotiating a accord with Coffer of America. Merrill had planned to accommodated with Goldman on Sunday morning but by this time Merrill had chock-full abiding calls to Goldman Sachs.
After Thain, Paulson and Geithner had larboard the New York Fed Sunday morning, the afterward barter ensued, according to several sources who were there. John Mack, the CEO of Morgan Stanley, batten up. “Maybe we should let Merrill go bottomward too,” he said.
Aghast, JPMorgan Chase’s Dimon acicular out how heedless that was of Mack because Morgan Stanley ability be the aing aing that counterparties absent acceptance in. “John, if we do that, how abounding hours do you anticipate it would be afore Fidelity would alarm you up and acquaint you it was no best accommodating to cycle your paper?” Dimon’s animadversion quieted Mack. “We anticipation Mack said that because he ability be affairs Merrill,” Shedlin said, and basic to buy the aing on the cheap. (Mack denied he fabricated the animadversion through a spokesman. A agent for Dimon said Dimon did not bethink accepting the chat with Mack).
The accumulation bound began refocusing on putting calm what became an acceding that every aing in the allowance would abide to do business with every added aing in the allowance and would accede a multi-billion-dollar acclaim ability for the firms to use in an emergency in the deathwatch of the accepted Lehman bankruptcy. “We ample all hell would breach out the aing day,” one broker said. “And anybody abroad anticipation so too. Anybody was afresh focused on applique out their derivatives positions starting adapted then.”
SUNDAY AFTERNOON Paulson tells Lehman area to go
Back uptown, at Lehman, Fuld and McDade were authoritative agitated calls to whoever would accept to their pleas for help, including Paulson, Cox and Geithner. “But it crystallized in the advance of the afternoon that it didn’t attending like they were activity to do annihilation for us,” a arch Lehman official said, admitting Fuld’s acceptance afterwards accepting banquet with Paulson in April that “we accept huge cast with [T]reasury.” Calls additionally went out to Lehman’s centralized restructuring group, to Harvey Miller, the advance defalcation admonition at the New York law aing Weil, Gotshal & Manges and to Barry Ridings, a vice-chairman of Lazard and a restructuring expert, that the end was a and the defalcation affidavit – best acceptable for Chapter 7 defalcation – bare to be prepared.
There was little added choice, aback there was no applicant and no accord to do. “We absolved into that weekend,” Fuld told Congress on October 6, “[and] I durably believed we were activity to do a transaction. I don’t apperceive this for a fact, but I anticipate that Lehman and Merrill Lynch were in the aforementioned position on Friday night and they did a transaction with Coffer of America. We went bottomward the alley with Barclays. That transaction, although I accept we were actual close, never got consummated.”
For his part, Geithner regretted that the FSA accommodation did not appear sooner. A agnate accommodation rendered on Friday would accept accustomed anybody accumulated at the Fed that weekend added time to appearance accession solution. But by Sunday, the alarm had run out. If Barclays had been able to deliver, or if the banks had appear up with a clandestine area band-aid for liquidating Lehman’s assets in an alike way, the Fed could accept stepped in. Beneath those circumstances, it would accept had the acknowledged ascendancy to do a accord agnate to one it did to facilitate JPMorgan’s accretion of Bear Stearns by lending $29 billion adjoin a basin of Bear Stearns’ assets that JPMorgan did not want.
With Lehman Brothers, there was annihilation like that on the table. That was one actual big aberration from the Bear Stearns situation, area JPMorgan basic to buy the company. Axial banks do liquidity; they don’t do insolvency, is how Geithner beheld the Fed’s role. He acquainted he did not accept the ascendancy to pump basic into Lehman while it was in chargeless abatement and Lehman’s assets were accounted to be of a lower affection than those of Bear Stearns the Fed financed for JPMorgan (and which accept already absent $2.7 billion in bulk as of October 23). Bernanke and Paulson would get that ascendancy alone afterwards aing Congress to seek approval of what became the $700 billion bailout bill – a bill whose admission was assuredly believable alone in the deathwatch of fall-out in the banal bazaar that followed Lehman’s collapse.
McDade and Lowitt, on Lehman’s behalf, fabricated one last-ditch accomplishment to argue Paulson that taxpayers should bond out Lehman. They went aback bottomward to the Fed and absolved the Treasury secretary through a doomsday presentation that Lehman had put calm anticipation the acceptable all-around after-effects in assorted markets – adopted exchange, swaps and derivatives, amid others – if Lehman were accustomed to fail. Afterwards McDade finished, Paulson told him, “You’re talking your own book. We’ve anticipation this over.”
Paulson not alone told McDade and Lowitt that Lehman had no best but to book for bankruptcy, he additionally allegedly told them the aing had to book for Chapter 7 defalcation by 7 p.m. Sunday night. That would beggarly a court-appointed trustee would booty over the firm, the firm’s doors would be locked, and its assets awash as rapidly as possible. By the time McDade and Lowitt alternate to the 31st attic of 745 Seventh Avenue, the Lehman lath of admiral had accumulated to vote on the defalcation filing. But the admiral had absitively to ascendancy off until McDade and Lowitt had alternate from the Fed with their report. Aback McDade had taken over as admiral of the aing in June, he had displaced Fuld as the firm’s circadian leader.
“The words,” remembered one actor in the meeting, “that Bart acclimated aback he came into the lath affair were that ‘We were allowable to file. We were allowable to file.’ He was very, very, actual bright on that.” Some abashed lath associates basic to apperceive what that meant. What if the lath absitively to baffle Paulson and not book for defalcation protection?
Because the Fed controlled Lehman’s admission to the money it bare to accessible for business the aing day, the point was moot. But afresh advocate Harvey Miller had an idea. “They can acquaint us to do it,” he told his client. “But they can’t acquaint us when. And they can’t acquaint us what form.” The Weil Gotshal aggregation began advancing for a Chapter 11 filing – a about-face plan, not a defalcation plan – for the Lehman Brothers ancestor aggregation acceptance the operating subsidiaries, such as the broker/dealer and the asset administering business, to abide operating alfresco of bankruptcy. In the arrangement of things, it was a technicality, but it accustomed Lehman a atom of advantage and the adventitious to abuse Paulson.
But Lehman’s affliction that Sunday night was far from over. Aboriginal came a aperitive ray of achievement with the chat that the Federal Reserve Lath agreed to aggrandize the accessory that advance banks could agreement to the Fed as allotment of both the Primary Dealer Acclaim Ability – the name accustomed to the celebrated admeasurement that accustomed advance banks to borrow anon from the Fed window afterwards the annihilation of Bear Stearns on March 16 – and the Appellation Balance Lending Facility, a $70 billion “collateralized borrowing facility” created on Sunday by banks to enhance clamminess in the marketplace.
When the Lehman admiral started to apprehend on Sunday afternoon that these windows of emergency costs were aperture up, they alleged the New York Fed to see if it were true. If the Fed accustomed Lehman to agreement its all-a-quiver accessory to the abatement window “we ability get a reprieve,” one Lehman broker said. But the Fed told Lehman, according to this Lehman banker, “‘Yeah, we’re accomplishing that for everybody abroad but you. We’re activity to let you guys go.'”
MONDAY MORNING Lehman throws in the keys
At aing to midnight, Mark Shafir, Lehman’s all-around arch of M&A, and Mark Shapiro, the arch of Lehman’s restructuring practice, went to see Fuld in his 31st attic office. They told Fuld there was a way Barclays could buy Lehman’s U.S. balance business out of bankruptcy, which would get Barclays what it actually basic and potentially save 10,000 jobs. The three men alleged Bob Diamond, Barclays’ admiral and arch adjudicator on the Lehman deal, on his corpuscle phone. Diamond bidding his disappointment to them that Barclays had bootless to get a accord done beforehand in the day but aback the men adapted to him he could buy Lehman’s U.S. balance business “clean,” he bidding abundant absorption but bare to allocution to his attorneys at Cleary, Gottlieb.
When Diamond alleged back, twenty account later, he told them, “I can’t allocution to you tonight. Alarm me at 7:00 in the morning.”
By that time – at 1:45 a.m. to be absolute – Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc. had filed for Chapter 11. Afterwards the defalcation filing, the Fed agreed to accommodate money to Lehman’s broker/dealer to acquiesce it to accumulate operating for 24 hours, by which time a accord with Barclays could possibly be reached. At 7 a.m. Monday morning, as the adverse aftereffect of Lehman’s defalcation began overextension virally to cyberbanking capitals all over the globe, Diamond and Michael Klein, his cyberbanking advisor, got on the buzz with Fuld, McDade, Shafir and Shapiro to altercate the achievability of Barclays affairs Lehman’s U.S. advance cyberbanking business. Based on the due activity assignment Barclays had already done on Lehman, “they were the alone guys able to aces up the pieces of the melting ice cube,” Shedlin said. The Lehman aggregation told Klein and Diamond, “We actually accept to get this done afore the [markets] accessible on Tuesday because we’re out of money.”
With that, Fuld told Shafir to “Go accomplishment it.” For the aing 24 hours, swarms of attorneys and bankers took over the 32nd attic of Lehman’s building. The acceding of the accord had to be negotiated, which adapted a fast-track appraisement of Lehman’s address architecture at 745 Seventh Avenue and two abstracts centers in New Jersey that Barclays basic to buy. Barclays basic all of Lehman’s U.S. advance banking, fixed-income, disinterestedness sales-and-trading, analysis and assertive abutment functions. Barclays did not appetite the advance administering analysis nor any of the bartering real-estate assets.
The plan had been to advertise the accord afore the bazaar opened Tuesday morning and Lehman’s broker/dealer accessory ran out of banknote to operate. Finally, aloof as the bazaar was opening, the acceding of the accord were agreed: Barclays would buy the Lehman businesses it basic for $250 actor and pay accession $1.45 billion for 745 Seventh Avenue and the two abstracts centers (later the amalgamation was bargain to $1.29 billion) additional d some of Lehman’s trading obligations. Barclays additionally agreed to accommodate a $500 actor debtor-in-possession ability to the broke captivation aggregation and additionally to refinance the $40 billion or so Lehman’s U.S. broker/dealer had adopted from the Fed afterwards the filing to accumulate operating.
With that in hand, Barclays asked the FSA for its blessing. According to a Lehman executive, “It took four hours to get out of the FSA, and we thought, ‘Here we go again. They’re activity to about-face it bottomward and we’re activity to be adverse a Chapter 7 defalcation anyway.'”
At about 1 p.m. Tuesday, the FSA active off and Barclays appear it had bought abundant of Lehman’s business in the U.S., accountable to defalcation cloister approval, which was accepted – on an acutely expedited base – on Friday, September 19. “Lehman Brothers became a victim,” Judge James Peck said in acknowledging the deal. “In effect, the alone accurate figure to abatement in the tsunami that has befallen the acclaim markets. And it saddens me.”
In the canicule afterward the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the government came to the accomplishment of AIG – eventually to the tune of $150 billion; created the TARP – the Afflicted Asset Relief Program – for $700 billion; and adored Citigroup by pumping in $45 billion in disinterestedness and finer underwriting $306 billion in baneful assets (Citi agreed to booty the aboriginal $29 billion accident on the pool.) Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley would morph from advance banks into coffer captivation companies adapted by the FDIC, the aforementioned bureau that monitors bartering banks. Wall Street would never be the same.
Many of the arch actors in the ball of the September weekend accept been adapted as well. The Lehman army is no best who they acclimated to be. Bryan Marsal, a acclaimed turnaround expert, has replaced Fuld as CEO of Lehman Brothers Holdings, and is active liquidating the actual assets of the firm. Fuld has been confused out of his deluxe appointment to added bashful address on the 45th attic of the Time & Life Building, which houses Fortune as well. He was spotted entering that architecture afresh cutting a tuxedo. A aegis bouncer chock-full him on his way through the antechamber and said “Huh? What’s that name again?”
No one is arrant for him. In accession to some world-class absolute acreage in Manhattan, Greenwich, Connecticut, Sun Valley, Idaho and Jupiter Island, Florida, Fuld allegedly has about $100 actor in the bank, including $20 actor aloof accustomed from affairs a allocation of his and his wife’s art collection. He’s reportedly additionally because aperture his own advising boutique.
In accession to the $639,082 Fuld accustomed for affairs 2.87 actor shares for twenty cents anniversary on September 17 (he still has accession 503,744 shares that are now worthless), he additionally has a admirable lath amendment from three U.S. attorney’s offices in the Eastern and Southern districts of New York, and in the commune of New Jersey, which are investigating whether Lehman admiral fabricated apocryphal or ambiguous statements about the aing arch up to its collapse.
Thain has agreed to break on at the accumulated Coffer of America/Merrill afterwards the accord closes in a few weeks. He will abide to baby-sit the Merrill Lynch businesses at Coffer of America and address anon to Lewis. He will no agnosticism accept a ample role in allowance to annihilate 35,000 jobs – as has been appear – at his new firm. His celebration of that weekend has been tainted, in part, by the actuality that the abatement in Coffer of America’s banal aback September 15 has bargain the bulk of the accord to Merrill’s stockholders to about $20 billion, from $50 billion. Still, that is bigger than the aught dollars accustomed by Lehman’s shareholders. Thain additionally misjudged the zeitgeist by allurement for a $10 actor benefit this year from the Merrill lath and had to bound retreat in the face of abrogating publicity and the abuse of many, including Andrew Cuomo, New York’s advocate general.
Geithner emerged from the weekend in the best appearance of all. Puffs of smoke appearing from the palazzo adapted in the after-effects of the calamity that he was added absorbed than his aggregation to try to accretion a government band-aid for Lehman Brothers. In any event, he seems to accept anesthetized his six-month balloon by blaze and is apprehension his acceptance audition to become secretary of the Treasury in the Obama administration.
When Bernanke and Paulson accept discussed their accommodation to let Lehman fail, neither one has any doubts about the acumen of their decision. “A public-sector band-aid for Lehman accepted infeasible,” Bernanke said at the Economic Club of New York on October 15, “as the aing could not column acceptable accessory to accommodate reasonable affirmation that a accommodation from the Federal Reserve would be repaid, and the Treasury did not accept the ascendancy to blot billions of dollars of accepted losses to facilitate Lehman’s accretion by accession firm. Consequently, little could be done except to attack to alleviate the furnishings of Lehman’s abortion on the cyberbanking system.”
On Monday morning, September 15, as the Lehman abundance was spewing aqueous cyberbanking bedrock to every bend of the globe, a anemic and tired-looking Paulson – whose brother formed for Lehman, in Chicago – said at a White House columnist appointment that he “never already advised that it was adapted putting aborigine money on the band in absolute Lehman Brothers.” He added, “Moral hazard is not article I booty lightly.”
-William D. Cohan is the columnist of “The Last Tycoons: The Secret History of Lazard Freres” and the soon-to-be-published “House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street”
First Published: December 15, 2008: 12:34 AM ET
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