Lehman Creditors to Get $22.5 Billion, 53% Over Top Estimate

Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. (LEHMQ), which is preparing its first payment to creditors after more than three years in bankruptcy, said the initial distribution will be $22.5 billion, or 53 percent more than it previously estimated was possible.

Lehman, which filed the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history in September 2008, had said it could give creditors $12 billion to $14.7 billion initially on April 17, depending on how much cash it needs to keep in reserve for disputed claims. Senior bondholders of the parent company will get about 6 cents on the dollar of their allowed claims in the first payment, while unsecured creditors of some Lehman affiliates will get 16 cents or more, according to a bankruptcy court filing in Manhattan today.

A second distribution is planned for Sept. 30, said Lehman, which officially exited from bankruptcy last month, in a statement.

Lehman’s $2.5 billion of 6.875 percent notes rose 0.3 cent to 29.9 cents on the dollar at 12:59 p.m. in New York, according to Trace, the bond price reporting system of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. The securities have climbed from 23.8 cents in October and reached 30 cents in March.

Payment Plan

Lehman, which was run by Chief Executive Officer Richard Fuld when its collapse helped bring on the worst economic slump since the Great Depression, settled a fight with creditors in a payment plan that allotted more money to derivatives claimants including Goldman Sachs (GS) Group Inc. and less to bondholders such as Paulson & Co. Both groups had proposed rival plans to pay Lehman’s debts.

Creditors of the former investment bank may have to wait a long time to get all the money allotted to them in Lehman’s liquidation plan. Former CEO Bryan Marsal, who ran the company in bankruptcy, said asset sales will continue through 2014 as the firm tries to raise a total of $65 billion to pay estimated claims of $370 billion.

This month’s distribution includes payments to third party creditors and payments among the Lehman debtors, the New York- based company said. It will hold $4.4 billion of cash in reserve for disputed claims, it said.

Cash Reserved

Separately, about $6 billion of unrestricted cash will be reserved for operating and non-operating expenses and other commitments, such as an agreement to buy a stake in real estate company Archstone, Lehman said.

Creditors of the Lehman parent will get a total of $10.2 billion on April 17, according to Lehman’s court filing. Creditors of its special financing unit will be paid $6.9 billion, and $3.2 billion will go to holders of claims on its commercial paper unit, it said.

Lehman still is fighting creditors over billions of dollars in claims, including $6 billion filed by JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) that the defunct firm says are inflated. Lehman has also sued Bank of America Corp. and Barclays Plc (BARC) to stop them from selling their remaining stake in Archstone, Lehman’s biggest real-estate asset.

Investors in failed energy trader Enron Corp. were paid 53 cents on the dollar, while Lehman’s liquidation plan would give the average creditor less than 18 cents on the dollar in the next few years, according to court documents.

Derivatives Unit

Lehman’s senior bondholders, including Paulson, would recover about 21 cents on the dollar under the Marsal plan. Claims on Lehman’s derivatives unit, such as Goldman’s, would be paid about 28 cents to 32 cents, while commercial paper claims would get 48 cents to 56 cents, all based on each dollar of their investment, court papers show.

Lehman failed because of too much debt and risky real estate investments, according to a bankruptcy examiner’s report. The firm filed for bankruptcy with $613 billion in debt. Bankruptcy managers and advisers have charged Lehman almost $1.6 billion in fees since it foundered.

The bankruptcy case is In re Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., 08-13555, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

To contact the reporters on this story: Linda Sandler in New York at lsandler@bloomberg.net; Pierre Paulden in New York at ppaulden@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Pickering at jpickering@bloomberg.net

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