Plugging Holes at Lehman

August 19, 2008

Pedestrians walk past a Lehman Brothers sign in New YorkLehman Brothers is considering selling all or part of its asset management unit – anchored by Neuberger Berman and thought to be worth about $8 billion — by the time it releases third quarter earnings. That would be more than enough to fill the $4 billion dollars in write-downs JP Morgan says the bank will have to take in the quarter, but sources say it’s not clear if all or part of the investment management business would be sold. Some have said an outright sale of the entire investment management business could be tough, as it would be too big for most buyers to swallow. One source familiar with the situation said Lehman is marketing its asset management unit to a number of buyers including private equity firms. A second said Lehman is looking at several alternatives including selling a stake in the business.

General Dynamics has agreed to acquire Zurich-based Jet Aviation, a privately held provider of business-aviation services, for about $2.25 billion in cash. The U.S. defense contractor said the deal, which would expand its flight support services, is expected to immediately add to its earnings and should close by the end of the year. Jet Aviation is currently owned by private equity firm Permira Funds. It provides maintenance, repair and overhaul services for business jets. It also charters executive jets.

Tata Consultancy Services is close to acquiring Citigroup‘s backoffice unit in India for up to $550 million, the Economic Times reports, citing a source close to the development. The announcement of a deal for Citigroup Global Services is likely to be made “within three weeks”, the paper said, adding that Tata, India’s top software services exporter, has edged out IBM in the race for the Citi unit.

CME Group‘s grip on the U.S. futures market is now more of a stranglehold with the approval of its $8.2 billion purchase of energy and metals trading market NYMEX Holdings. The Chicago-based company will now control some 98 percent of the trading in U.S. futures and options on futures, and many analysts expect its next target will be overseas. The NYMEX purchase comes just 13 months after CME swallowed the Chicago Board of Trade in July 2007, which at that point was the second-largest U.S. futures exchange. It will end a short run for NYMEX as an independent, publicly traded exchange. The New York mart staged a long-awaited initial public offering in late 2006.

Swiss specialty chemicals maker Ciba posted a surprise first-half net loss of 569 million Swiss francs ($519.2 million) after a writedown and said it was considering selling two businesses, sending its shares down more than 16 percent. The water and paper treatment unit and its publication inks business are seen headed for the block.

China’s CNPC and Sinopec Group have put in a rare joint bid of between $1.5 billion and $2.5 billion for Petro-Tech Peruana, a private firm with oil and gas assets in Peru, according to a Beijing-based industry official. The Chinese firms, teamed up under Beijing’s coordination, expected Petro-Tech to announce the result by about late September.

Other deals of the day:

* Australia’s Primary Healthcare has agreed to sell its pharmacy unit for A$505 million ($439 million) to Hong Kong-based Zuellig Group, Primary said, sending its shares to a two-month high.

* Opto Circuits (India) is in talks to acquire a privately held European company at a deal value estimated at more than $100 million, its managing director Vinod Ramnani told reporters.

* ITC, India’s top cigarette firm, said its information technology arm has acquired U.S-based technology firm Pyxis Solutions for an undisclosed sum.

* Norwegian seismic surveyor TGS-Nopec recommended ending efforts to merge with rival Wavefield Inseis and proposed seeking up to $700 million in damages for the failure.

* SolarWorld‘s chief executive said he was not planning to sell his stake in the company any time soon, confronting rumors that General Electric was interested in the company.

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