When the Korea Development Bank had signaled that buying a stake in an investment bank might be premature at this juncture, it had appeared the bureaucrats had beaten back KDB’s chairman and former head of Lehman’s Seoul branch, Min-Euoo-song, who was pushing the deal. But the Telegraph tells us not only that negotiations are back on, but that Lehman appears desperate to cinch a deal before its earnings are announced in roughly two weeks.
And no wonder. The Telegraph indicates the earnings release will include $4 billion of writedowns. Note that this is consistent with, even lower than some of the estimates out on the Street now. For instance, Merrill’s Guy Moszkowski forecasts that Lehman will lose $2.6 billion in its third quarter, showing $4.5 billion in losses, with a 35% reduction due to gains on hedges.
So if these numbers are already reflected in the stock price, why the scramble to get a deal done? Is this simply adherence to the recent practice of having capital-raisings in hand that are equal to or in excess of the hit to capital? Is it that, as with the second quarter, the losses that will be announced are vastly worse than expected? Or is it that the details in the financials will suggest that further deterioration is likely?
From the Telegraph:
The Sunday Telegraph has learned that Lehman has intensified talks in recent days with Korea Development Bank, the South Korean government-backed lender, about a capital injection of as much as $6bn (£3.3bn). KDB has drafted in bankers from the heavyweight advisory boutique Perella Weinberg to provide counsel on the talks, which could be concluded this week.
The acceleration of the negotiations, which Lehman wants to have wrapped up before it reports third-quarter earnings in mid-September, underlines the urgency with which one of the US banking industry’s most venerable names is seeking capital.
If the talks with the Koreans fall through, Lehman is lining up alternative investment from other sources, including Citic Securities, a Chinese brokerage which was on the verge of investing in Bear Stearns before its implosion earlier this year, which resulted in a cut-price takeover by JP Morgan, another Wall Street banking group.
Lehman is also holding talks with a number of sovereign funds from the Middle East, which have been invited to participate in a capital-raising. These are understood to include investors from Abu Dhabi and Qatar.
Under the structures being discussed by Lehman executives, including Richard Fuld, the bank’s chairman and chief executive, KDB could buy up to 25 per cent of Lehman, which has a market value of just $11.2bn following a slump in its share price this year.
Alternatively, if it proceeds with a deal with Citic or the Gulf investors, Lehman is likely to sell no more than 10 per cent of itself to each of those funds, but could combine it with a broader equity-raising in the open market. Fuld, who is determined to avoid a sale of the bank’s prized assets at distressed prices, is understood to have assigned several of his key executives to look at different fundraising scenarios.
Other options open to the Lehman board, whose members include Sir Christopher Gent, the former chief executive of Vodafone and current chairman of GlaxoSmithKline, include the sale of part or all of its asset management arm.Lehman’s so-called “crown jewel”, it includes Neuberger Berman, a highly rated fund management business. Analysts have valued the division at up to $10bn.
“The preferred option is not to sell any of it unless they cannot raise enough from external investors,” said a person involved in the talks. Dozens of parties, including JC Flowers and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, have expressed an interest in the business.
Fuld is also keeping Lehman’s board appraised of plans to spin off the bank’s troubled $40bn commercial real estate portfolio, which may result in the creation of a separately quoted company in which Lehman Brothers shareholders would be given equity. The demerger of the real estate assets would leave the investment bank with a cleaner risk profile and remove one of the main drags on its share price…
At its earnings announcement next month, Lehman is expected to disclose further writedowns of about $4bn, to add to the $8bn in writedowns and losses already declared.