Charles Gasparino of CNBC has reported that a ource at Goldman has told him the firm is not willing to buy Lehman. This is at odds with what a source, a former senior officer who has been accurate about past Lehman-related matters, told us earlier today via e-mail.
Ah, but are the two stories necessarily contradictory? Consider what he said:
A couple friends of mine from LEH trading desk called me this a.m. to say that mgmt has taken employees aside to let them know that the end should come in next 24-48 hours…
Apparently GS is willing buyer, but is buyer of last resort from LEH’s perspective…
Management may have tried to put the best possible spin on this situation, and may have suggested that Goldman was receptive. Given the history of leaked Lehman communiques, some of which appear to have gotten out by design, it is not implausible that management alluded to Goldman as a worst case scenario buyer even if Goldman is decidedly cool on the idea.
And the other aspects of this e-mail appear to be accurate. Bloomberg is now reporting that Lehman has asked other firms, unnamed at this juncture, to review its books:
Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. entered into talks with potential buyers of the securities firm after Moody’s Investors Service said the company must find a “stronger financial partner” and the shares plummeted.
Bankers from other firms are reviewing Lehman’s books today, people with knowledge of the situation said, declining to identify the potential acquirers….
Without a “strategic arrangement” in the “near term,” Lehman’s credit-ratings may be downgraded, Moody’s said yesterday….
“While the number of potential acquirers at this point is very few, Moody’s action certainly raises the specter of takeout, potentially at a very low price,” said Merrill Lynch & Co. analyst Guy Moszkowski in a report today. He lowered his recommendation on the stock to “no opinion,” saying a potential “take-under” makes it hard to gauge a price target…