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Lehman exits bankruptcy; world markets still in doldrums

March 07, 2012 14:53 IST

Nearly three and half years after it went belly-up in September 2008, once-powerful investment bank Lehman Brothers has announced its exit from bankruptcy.

A Wall Street behemoth at that time, Lehman's bankruptcy had become a symbol of global financial crisis at that time, and its ripple effects led to the world markets, including in India, falling like nine pins for months together.

The world economy still remains far from a complete recovery, as the Europe has got engulfed in a major debt crisis since then, but the US-based financial services firm last night asserted its return to sound financial health.

However, it could still take many years before the 161-year-old Lehman, once a poster-boy of the US markets, could regain its lost glory.

Indian stock market and many others have recovered the ground lost since September 2008, but they remain still far away from regaining the entire lost glory, as a downslide had been underway for months before Lehman going bankrupt.

The Indian market's baromter Sensex nearly halved from over 15,000-level to close to 8,500 points within weeks of Lehman bankruptcy in Setember 2008, but is again trading near 17,000 level. However, it still remains far from its record high levels of over 21,000 points, scaled in January 2008.

Lehman Brothers remains the biggest bankruptcy in the world history, as it had gone belly up with an asset size of over $690 billion -- over double the size of the second-largest case of Washington Mutual at about $320 billion.

The exit from the bankruptcy is estimated to cost the defunct bank more than $1.5 billion in terms of various fees and expenses. This is nearly double the bankruptcy exit bill of Enron at about $800 million.

As part of restructuring efforts, Lehman Brothers has sold off many of its assets since entering into bankruptcy, and after this exit such sell of will not require court permission for every asset sale.

As per its bankruptcy-exit plan, Lehman would start paying back its creditors by the middle of next month.

"We are proud to announce Lehman's exit from chapter 11 and entrance into the final stage of this process - distributions to creditors," John Suckow, a managing director with Alvarez & Marsal and Lehman's president and chief operating officer said.

A new board will guide Lehman Brothers Holdings and its affiliates towards a "complete liquidation" of their assets, following a strategy to efficiently and expeditiously maximize results for creditors, the statement said.

"Our objective remains to provide the best results possible for creditors - by continuing to strategically position assets to produce strong values, to pursue the resolution of disputed claims and other matters in litigation, and to manage expenses in line with the asset disposition process," Suckow added.

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