Lehman's NY staff angry, Merrill's shell-shocked

Mon Sep 15, 2008 5:35pm EDT
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By Aarthi Sivaraman and Kristina Cooke

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stunned and angry, Lehman Brothers' employees packed their bags at company headquarters in New York, with some bitterness over the 158-year-old company's failure aimed at Chief Executive Richard Fuld.

By 6:30 a.m. ET (1030 GMT) on Monday, dozens of Lehman employees had hurried into the building, located a few blocks from New York's Times Square. Some wore suits, while a handful were dressed in casual clothes and flip-flops.

Many carried what looked like empty duffel bags, backpacks and suitcases into the building, with some walking out soon after, toting full bags.

They shared a sense of anger and dismay that between Friday evening and early Monday, Lehman could not find a savior and instead had filed for bankruptcy protection during a bruising weekend for Wall Street.

"Dick always said he takes care of his people," said Leslee Gelber, a staffer in Lehman's mortgage unit, referring to Fuld. "If he really wanted to do something earlier, he could have. Ultimately it is his fault."

Gelber stood outside Lehman's entrance, where its name is affixed in metallic letters on black walls. Big screens on the building's facade flashed videos and the company's name.

"I have been here 14 years," Gelber said. "I don't know what to do."

Trying to help staffers channel their anger into art, artist Geoffrey Raymond invited them to scribble and vent on a painting of Fuld outside the building.   Continued...