Lehman Brothers Sues Barclays for Billions Over Windfall Profit From Asset Sale Transaction

Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. has filed an adversary complaint against Barclays Capital Inc. requesting the return of billions of dollars in extra profit that it says the latter made when buying Lehman’s North American brokerage business last year. Lehman says that Barclays failed to disclose that it received an illegal payment of at least $5 billion as part of the asset sale transaction. Barclays says that the asset sale terms were delineated in documents that Lehman executives signed.

Lehman is alleging breach of contract, aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty, and several violations of the US bankruptcy code. Lehman is seeking punitive damages, compensatory damages, post-judgment interest, return of excess assets, avoidance of excess asset transfers, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, and, pursuant to Bankruptcy Code Section 502(d), disallowance of Barclays claims against Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.

According to the adversary complaint, Lehman and Barclays executives made an agreement that Barclays would buy Lehman’s US brokerage business, key real estate pieces, and related support systems. A bankruptcy court approved the deal.

Now, however, Lehman claims that the Sale Transaction were secretly put together in a manner that gave Barclays a huge, immediate windfall profit: Specifically, an undisclosed $5 billion off the book value of assets that were moved to Barclays and later, the undisclosed transfers of billions of dollars in ‘additional value.’

Barclays, however, says that the $5 billion “discount” is in fact the difference between the $45 billion it paid and the $49.7 billion nominal value of Lehman collateral that Barclays assumed and paid for the Lehman assets.

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