10 years of Lehman Brothers’ Bankruptcy: The collapse of Lehman Brothers shook the financial markets worldwide a decade ago. The demise of the then 158-year-old Wall Street giant led to a challenging dilemma with regard to $619 billion worth of debt which Lehman held on its books from over 100,000 creditors.
On September 15, Lehman Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the record for the largest bankruptcy in the history of the United States even to date. At the time of filing bankruptcy, Lehman Brothers had assets worth $639 billion which were inter-dependable on other investment as well as commercial banks.
Lehman Brothers, a prominent investment bank amid big banking giants of the United States, went on to capitalise on the US housing boom. After 1990, taking a breather from the 1987 Wall Street crash, popularly known as Black Monday, Lehman Brothers acquired several mortgage lenders including BNC Mortgage and Aurora Loan Services.
The early shockwaves of the global financial crisis of 2008 were seen before Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy proceedings. We take a look at a brief timeline of events that occurred just before Lehman Brothers collapsed.
A timeline of the decade-old crisis at defunct Wall Street giant: Lehman Brothers
February 2007: Lehman Brothers share price touched a record high of $86. At that time, Lehman Brothers’ stock market value or market capitalisation was at $60 billion
August 2007: Following the closure of BNC Mortgage, Lehman Brothers slashed about 1,200 jobs.
September 2007: Lehman Brothers reported its first quarterly loss in five years. The fourth-largest investment bank of US booked a loss of $700 million from the credit crunch.
January 2008: Lehman Brothers announced that it will cut another 1,300 jobs and will halt mortgage lending in the US.
March 2008: Standard and Poor’s, one of the big three credit rating firms in the world, put Lehman Brothers on negative outlook, largely because of the diminished capital market activities. The arch-rival of Lehman Brothers and second biggest underwriter of subprime loans, Bear Stearns collapsed and was later sold to JP Morgan for as low as $2 per share.
April 2008: Lehman Brothers took about $1.8 billion of assets onto its books after bailing out 5 short-term debt funds.
May 2008: Lehman Brothers slashed another 1,500 jobs.
June 2008: Following the demise of Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers started looking for someone to buy it. In the same month, Lehman Brothers went on to raise $6 billion. Lehman Brothers reduced its exposure to real estate by 20% and said that it had lost almost $3 billion in the last three months.
July 2008: Richard Fuld, the CEO and Chairman, Lehman Brothers was reported to be considering turning the bank private.
August 2008: Lehman Brothers was actively looking for a potential buyer. Lehman Brothers called Lazard, the largest independent investment bank in the world, to advise it. Fuld started negotiating to offload $30 billion in several illiquid assets and commercial mortgage securities. Reportedly, Temasek, HSBC, Korean Development Bank and several other Chinese banks looked upon the prospective deal. But all the discussions failed which led to the sentiment turning catastrophic over Lehman Brothers’ ‘going concern’ status. Following the downturn, Lehman Brothers shares crashed by 50% while debt escalated by more than 60% due to the one after other defaults on Lehman.
Early-September 2008: After talks with the Korean Development Bank failed, Lehman Brothers share price tumbled due to which as much as 30% of the market capitalisation was erased. Losses were mounting on Lehman Brothers, over $5 billion was further written off. Lehman Brothers was left with its last $1 billion in cash reserves. Then US Treasury Secretary and ex-Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson said that there would be no bail out for Lehman Brothers. Lehman Brothers also looked at avenues such as splitting itself into two separate listed companies.
September 10, 2008: Lehman Brothers reported a loss of $3.9 billion and said that it may spin off up to $30 billion of physical assets into a separate public entity and sell off $4 billion of real estate assets to BlackRock. Lehman Brothers share price nosedived to a 52-week low of $6.93 while market capitalisation reduced to $5 billion.
September 11, 2008: Lehman Brothers share price tanked 42% on a remark by Moody’s Investors Service. Moody’s said that it will slash Lehman Brothers rating if the bank fails to arrange a “strategic transaction with a strong financial partner”.
September 13, 2008: The US Federal officials called an emergency meeting on the weekend with the Chiefs of Wall Street and the Securities and Exchange Commission to discuss any potential solution which can pull out Lehman Brothers from the crisis. Henry Paulson and Timothy Geithner, President, New York Federal Reserve, were hurling bankers to brokers for a last-minute deal. The CEOs of big investment banks such as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and Wells Fargo were struggling with their own complications. They refused to take a piece of Lehman Brothers.
September 14, 2008: A day before D-day! Lehman Brothers Chairman Richard Fuld was hoping for a revival but the ongoing negotiations with Bank of America and Barclays went down after the US Federal Reserve refused to guarantee certain liabilities of Lehman Brothers.
September 15, 2008: The D-Day! The 158-year-old Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, the decision was taken in an emergency meeting which started at midnight in presence of most of the key of officials of Lehman Brothers. Wall Street began with the news of Lehman Brothers bankruptcy and key equity index immediately crashed 4%, the biggest single-day plunge since 9/11 attacks.