'You work for Lehman? I thought that went bust'

Sat Sep 14, 2013 7:37pm EDT
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By Steve Slater

LONDON (Reuters) - From his 23rd floor office of Citi's Canary Wharf tower, Tom Bolland can see the old European HQ of Lehman Brothers, where five years ago hundreds of his former colleagues were abruptly turfed out onto the street carrying their belongings in boxes.

The investment bank's collapse was the symbolic moment of the financial crisis, and it is a surprise to many that Lehman Brothers in Europe still lives on. It is under administrators, but two-thirds of its 500 staff are former Lehman employees helping to clear up the mess that is left.

"You work for Lehman? I thought that went bust," Bolland laughs at the typical response when he tells people he works for Lehman Brothers. "Most people are still surprised."

Bolland is the most senior of the "ex-Lehmanites" and recently celebrated 20 years with the bank - including 15 years pre-crash in a range of senior roles, which included overseeing its expansion in Russia, Turkey and the Middle East.

Now chief operating officer for Lehman Brothers International Europe (LBIE), he and more than 350 others were drafted in by Tony Lomas, joint administrator and PwC partner, to accelerate the wind-down of the business and maximize the assets that can be recovered.

"Yeah, you are working yourself out of a job. But you go out with an enhanced CV. And if you were at Lehman before you go out with your head held high, because you stayed and returned this money to the creditors," Bolland told Reuters.

Lomas expects to repay creditors fully and said the integration of LBIE staff with 200 PwC employees has been crucial to that success.

They take up three floors in Citigroup's London tower, less than 200 meters from the site Lehman occupied from April 2004 and now home to JPMorgan.   Continued...

Christie's employees pose for a photograph with a Lehman Brothers sign at Christie's in central London September 24, 2010. REUTERS/Andrew Winning