Then & Now
CEO: Richard Fuld (above)
Cash on balance sheet: $3.3 billion
CEO: Bryan Marsal, (above)
Cash on balance sheet: $7 billion
It’s bankrupt. Its reputation is in tatters. And it has been forced from its plush headquarters building. Yet working for Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. — what remains of it — has become one of the hottest jobs on Wall Street.
That’s because Lehman, though a shadow of its former self after selling many of its businesses to Barclays PLC and Nomura Holdings Inc., retains a broad patchwork of assets. It has some $7 billion in cash and more than 1,400 private investments valued at $12.3 billion. Then there’s a thicket of about 500,000 derivative contracts with 4,000 trading partners worth some $24 billion.
So for now, Lehman is seen as a relatively secure home for throngs of finance professionals thrown out of work in recent months. It’s even become a place for former Lehman CEO Richard Fuld to informally hang his hat.
“We’re getting swamped with résumés,” says Bryan Marsal, a turnaround expert who is now Lehman’s chief executive officer. The inquiries, he says, are from people affiliated with marquee names such as Bank of America, Citigroup Inc., and Morgan Stanley.
“It’s just a tough, tough time, and there are a lot of good people out there looking for work.”
The wages are not great by past standards. But there are hidden benefits. It could take two years or more to wind down the firm. Such a timeline promises the kind of job security that’s a rarity on Wall Street today.
Charged with untangling the mess is Alvarez & Marsal, the New York-based restructuring firm where Mr. Marsal is a co-founder. With 150 full-time employees working on the case, its chief task is to sell off Lehman’s remaining assets and maximize recovery for creditors, which are owed more than $150 billion.