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Lehman, BofA Strike Deal On $4 Billion Reduction Of Derivatives Claims

By Joseph Checkler Of DOW JONES DAILY BANKRUPTCY REVIEW Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. (LEHMQ) has struck a deal with Bank of America Corp. (BAC) and Merrill Lynch to reduce by more than $4 billion their derivatives claims against the liquidating investment bank, a key step for Lehman as it attempts to get its creditor-payback plan approved by a court later this year. In a Wednesday filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan, Lehman also said Bank of America will drop an appeal of a $500 million judgment against it and return $356 million for a claim in that proceeding. Merrill is a subsidiary of Bank of America. Lehman said in another filing that it wants to create a $12 million incentive plan for the employees working to unwind derivatives deal, a highly complex and important component of Lehman's eventual liquidation. Judge James Peck of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan will hold a hearing on the settlements and incentive proposal on Oct. 19. The derivatives deals are the latest for Lehman, which in July announced a settlement with many banks over $9.6 billion in derivatives claims. Lehman said at the time that it would continue seeking settlements with banks over the derivatives. "Winding down a derivatives portfolio of the size and scale of the Debtors' portfolio has been a monumental task never before faced by a chapter 11 debtor," Lehman said in its Wednesday filing. Lehman's biggest counterparties all have at least 5,000 derivatives transactions each. Lehman's newest creditor-payback proposal, filed in late June, could pay creditors up to $65 billion and gives those owed money from Lehman's various subsidiaries larger recoveries than they would have received under its original plan, but defines how much they can claim. The plan has much wider support than a prior one, including from two groups that had filed competing proposals. Judge Peck sent the plan to creditors for a vote last month, and has set a Dec. 6 hearing to consider whether to confirm it. Since the investment bank's collapse in September 2008, a team of hundreds of bankruptcy professionals under the direction of Alvarez & Marsal Inc. has managed Lehman's assets--which include real-estate holdings, corporate debt and derivatives--for the benefit of creditors. Lehman's most estimates say it would likely have $322 billion in allowed claims against the estate, with $272 billion from the parent company and about $50 billion from its various subsidiaries. (Dow Jones Daily Bankruptcy Review covers news about distressed companies and those under bankruptcy protection.) -By Joseph Checkler; Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2152; joseph.checkler@dowjones.com

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