Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Lehman Sells a Limb; AIG Sells Out

Lehman sold part of itself this evening to Barclay's for $1.75 billion.

"Barclays' purchase includes Lehman's North American sales, trading, and research and investment banking businesses, as well as its midtown Manhattan headquarters and two New Jersey data centers." Source

Lehman still has other assets, including international units and its famed asset-management firm.

"Barclays said it intends to immediately begin discussions with international authorities to acquire similar operations of Lehman outside of North America. Barclays also has agreed to provide $500 million of debtor-in-possession financing to Lehman.

Meanwhile, Lehman said it's in advanced talks to sell its investment management division, which includes money manager Neuberger Berman, to a third party.

The division was once valued by as much as $10 billion, but now could fetch much less considering Lehman's bankruptcy, the Associated Press reported. Source

Lehman has about 700 million outstanding shares, so the assets sold today represent about $2.5 per share. (I'm not stating that the shares will trade at that level tomorrow - that's just the asset prices divided by shares.)

Considering Lehman still has other valuable assets to sell off, it seems like shares should continue upward from the $.30 closing price today. Barclay's bought Lehman's North American business for just $250 million - roughly the closing price - implying that a lot of the troubled assets were packaged in that deal. The relatively clean parts - buildings, investment management firms - should fetch nice premiums.

I also added to my original AIG position, but that may not turn out so well. AIG agreed to accept $85 billion in government financing in exchange for warrants representing 79.9% of shares. The $85b isn't payment for the shares - rather, it's a loan, which accrues interest at Libor + 850 basis points (currently totaling over 11%).

So the good news is, AIG will definitely survive, and they have plenty of assets to sell to repay the loans. The bad news is that current shareholders - myself included - will be substantially diluted.

However, the credit rating agencies should upgrade AIG's ratings tomorrow morning after this capital infusion, and AIG will have time to sell assets in a orderly fashion. I don't expect a FRE/FNM-like 90% haircut to $.30 tomorrow morning, but the reaction will probably be negative. However, the government did imply that their goal was to maximize shareholder value, in contrast to the explicitly statement that common holders came last with the FRE/FNM situation.

Considering AIG's after-hours closing price under $3 represents a 95% decline from the top, the dilution may be pared with the survival of the company.

All I can do at this point is dream for good opening prices tomorrow. Both of these purchases represent timing and speculation more than Buffett-like investing. I couldn't keep my hand out of the cookie jar. Tomorrow, and continuing onward, we'll see if I enjoy sweet rewards or endure stomachaches.

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