Lehman’s Buyout Stakes Drawing Interest

A number of parties are interested in the private equity stakes being sold by Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., according to a source familiar with the matter.

Goldman Sachs, which has one of the world’s largest private equity businesses, is one of the potential bidders, a second source said. A Bloomberg report also named Coller Capital and Lexington Partners Inc. as other firms weighing bids, citing people with knowledge of the situation.

Lehman Brothers, which filed the largest bankruptcy case in U.S. history on Sept. 15, has been in the process of unwinding its business. The bank said earlier this month it was pursuing strategic alternatives for its private equity and venture capital portfolios, which have $15 billion assets in total and employ up to 100 people in New York, London, Boston and California. The businesses include a $3.3 billion buyout fund and a $3.5 billion real estate and mezzanine fund.

Lehman Brothers’s own holdings in the funds are somewhere around 15 percent to 25 percent of the total $15 billion, a source familiar with the matter said, with the rest held by other investors.

There is a large “secondary market” for private equity investments that allows investors to buy or sell positions in private equity funds, or portfolios of companies from existing investors.

Lehman Brothers said earlier this month that investment teams for the funds “remain intact and focused as we actively pursue the best strategic alternatives for these businesses going forward.”

The direct private equity assets are separate from Lehman Brothers’s prized Neuberger Berman asset management business. Bain Capital LLC and Hellman & Friedman LLC agreed last month to purchase the Neuberger Berman unit for $2.15 billion, and will now be the lead bidder at an auction for the unit in December. An attorney for rival buyout firm The Carlyle Group said at a recent hearing that it would also be interested in bidding for the Neuberger Berman unit at auction.

Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs declined comment for this story. Coller Capital and Lexington Partners were not available for comment.

(Additional reporting by Ajay Kamalakaran in Bangalore, editing by Leslie Gevirtz)