Jefferies Slides as Investors Focus on Impact of Europe’s Sovereign Debt

Jefferies Group Inc. (JEF) fell as much as 14 percent today as investors renewed their focus on Europe’s financial crisis, prompting the investment bank to say it has “no meaningful exposure” to debt issued by Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain.

Jefferies dropped 10 percent to $11.89 at 9:37 a.m. in New York trading, the stock’s biggest decline since February 2009, and sold for as little as $11.34. The shares have lost more than half their value this year.

Any sovereign debt positions that the New York-based firm takes in those nations are short-term, marked to market every day and “fluctuate depending upon customer demand, auction activity and opportunities in the market place,” Jefferies said today in a statement. The firm said it was responding to inquiries from investors and analysts.

Shares of financial firms came under renewed pressure on concern that Europe may fail to contain its sovereign debt crisis, which drove MF Global Holdings Ltd. into bankruptcy yesterday. Jefferies, which arranged $325 million of bonds for MF Global in August, said yesterday it has less than $9 million of exposure to the failed firm’s debt securities.

To contact the reporter on this story: Laura Marcinek in New York at lmarcinek3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Green at rgreen18@bloomberg.net

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