Management Beats PE Firms for Nueberger Berman

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The auction for Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc’s (LEHMQ.PK: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) prized asset management unit Neuberger Berman has been won by a team consisting of Neuberger’s management, the company announced on Wednesday.

The bid by Neuberger’s management beat the offer made by private equity firms Bain Capital LLC and Hellman & Friedman LLC, which valued the asset management firm at $2.15 billion.

Held at the law offices of Weil Gotschal & Manges, who represent Lehman in the bankruptcy proceedings, the auction was conducted by Jim Fogarty, chief operating officer of Lehman Brothers Holdings, who is overseeing the bankruptcy in his capacity as managing director of Alvarez & Marsal and Lazard (LAZ.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).

It is difficult to do an apples-to-apples comparison of the price, however, because under the deal’s structure, management will own 51 percent of the company and Lehman’s creditors will control the remainder.

“We will hold that (interest) until we can do a plan of reorganization, and at that time, would distribute these interests to our broad creditor base,” said Fogarty. Those interests would become tradable securities and could even be listed on an exchange at some point, he said.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge James Peck must still approve the selection. A hearing is scheduled for Dec 22 at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc filed for bankruptcy protection in mid-September after trying to finance too many risky assets with too little capital. Neuberger is one of its assets.

Founded in 1939 by Roy Neuberger, business had $160 billion assets under management as of November 30, it said.

“We’re pleased this will be co-owned and controlled 51 percent by our senior professionals” said George Walker, who will be chief executive of Neuberger Investment Management, the entity which owns Neuberger.

The auction concluded a drawn out sale of Neuberger. Lehman put part of it up for sale in August, but failed to find a buyer before filing for bankruptcy.

After the bankruptcy filing, the whole unit was marketed. A number of private equity firms were interested and bidders were whittled down to the Bain and Hellman & Friedman team.

By Megan Davies
(Additional reporting by Emily Chasan, editing by Lisa Von Ahn, John Wallace, Leslie Gevirtz)