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Four banks to bail out Lehman's India businesses

By Joydeep Ghosh & Manisha Singhal in Mumbai
September 22, 2008 08:56 IST
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In a move to soften the blow of Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy in the Indian stock and asset markets, four banks are set to take over its structured products businesses in India.

Banks likely to make the final cut include India's largest bank, State Bank of India, French bank BNP Paribas, UK-based Standard Chartered Bank and Barclays. The final contours of the deal are likely to be decided next week.

Sources said the Reserve Bank of India had been discussing the matter with various parties last week on account of fears that offloading Lehman's assets at one go could create a crisis in the stock and asset markets.

The RBI, though directly not involved in creating this consortium, is playing the moderator's role to ensure a smooth transfer of assets.

Sources close to the developments said the market estimate of the remaining value of Lehman Brothers' businesses is Rs 3,300 crore (Rs 33 billion) in India, of which structured products are estimated at Rs 700 crore (Rs 7 billion) to Rs 800 crore (Rs 8 billion).

Lehman had been aggressive in the structured products business over the year. However, unlike the model followed by most international banks, Lehman did not have a co-guarantor for these deals, which means the entire risk of these deals are on its books.

The businesses up for sale also include cross-borrowings between Lehman and others and guarantees of capital guarantee products offered by other institutions. For instance, Lehman has extended a gap risk guarantee to mutual funds in their portfolio management business.

Barclays has already taken over Lehman's North American business and has reportedly shown interest in the Australian and Asian operations.

Meanwhile, BNP Paribas and Barclays, in separate buyout deals, are likely to be interested in the investment banking division because it gives them an entry into an already-established business.

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Joydeep Ghosh & Manisha Singhal in Mumbai

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