FRI 17 Oct 2008
An auction of Lehman’s Neuberger Berman unit and other investment management bits and pieces moved closer yesterday with bid procedures getting clearance from a New York judge.Private equity groups Bain Capital and Hellman & Friedman agreed last month to purchase Lehman’s prized asset management unit for $2.15 billion, and they will be the lead bidders at an auction for the unit in December.In a status update prior to the judge’s ruling, Lehman’s lead attorney, Harvey Miller, said prosecutors had opened three grand jury investigations into the investment bank’s demise. The New York Post reported that disgraced CEO Dick Fuld is among 12 Lehman executives being subpoenaed. Fuld, questioned by a U.S. congressional panel earlier this month, denied deceiving shareholders.Politicians and the public are calling for heads to roll on Wall Street. Looking into Lehman are federal prosecutors as well as at least one state attorney general. And the FBI is in the early stages of examining mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and insurer American International Group, which were bailed out by the government after getting caught in the credit crunch.Did anyone actually understand the rocket science behind the engineering of the credit default swaps and other complex financial tools that blew up behind the scenes? If not, then it might be a hard sell to convince anyone that investors were intentionally misled.In the brave new financial world that emerges from the chaos of the ‘08 crash, will Wall Street executives be expected to understand everything their firms are doing? Sounds reasonable, if unlikely.