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Bain to buy part of Lehman in $2b deal

Bloomberg News / September 30, 2008
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NEW YORK - Bain Capital LLC and Hellman & Friedman LLC agreed to buy most of the asset-management unit of bankrupt Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in a deal that values the business at $2.15 billion, about half their initial bids.

The buyout firms will pay an undisclosed amount in cash for Lehman's Neuberger Berman mutual-fund division as well as part of a private-equity group that invests in corporate takeovers and real estate, the companies said yesterday. They will be equal partners, while fund managers and executives will also own a slice of the new firm.

Bain, based in Boston, and Hellman & Friedman of San Francisco paid less than they initially offered separately earlier this month before teaming up, though the transaction doesn't cover all parts of the investment unit that were put up for sale. Private-equity firms were the only bidders in a rushed auction after New York-based Lehman filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 15.

Roy Neuberger and Robert Berman founded the company that bears their names in 1939 to serve wealthy clients. During the 1950s, it was among the first firms to offer mutual funds that didn't charge transaction fees. The firm manages about $130 billion, out of $230 billion of assets being acquired in the deal.

Lehman chief executive Richard Fuld bought Neuberger in 2003 for $3.2 billion to expand the firm's wealth-management business and later consolidated its asset-management operations into a single division. He had hoped to hold on to a stake in the unit as part of his failed plan to keep the 158-year-old firm afloat.

Lehman's bankruptcy accelerated the sale and forced Lehman to sell the entire business. Private-equity firms Carlyle Group, Blackstone Group LP, and KKR & Co. LP weighed competing bidding for the unit and eventually opted not to. Clayton Dubilier & Rice made an initial bid.

After deciding to team up, Bain and Hellman encountered protracted negotiations complicated by Lehman's bankruptcy. Portfolio managers pushed for more compensation as part of the deal and talks stalled around how the new firm would be managed as well as which private-equity funds would be included and how they'd be valued.

The sale also doesn't include Lehman's private-investment-management division, which the firm agreed to sell separately to Barclays PLC. London-based Barclays last week concluded its purchase of Lehman's North American investment-banking business.

Lehman must get approval for the sale to the buyout firms in federal bankruptcy court.

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