Cost of Lehman Bankruptcy Nears $1 Billion

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The bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, which helped pull the global credit system to the edge of the precipice, has now cost nearly $1 billion in professional fees, based on data filed with the SEC. Through September, the price rose to $982 million. The documents show that 35 firms received most of the payments.

Law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges has received $237 million. Alvarez and Marsal, the restructuring firm in charge, has received $356 million. Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, which represents the unsecured creditors, has made $71 million.

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The sums may seem high, but they are probably not excessive. The Lehman Chapter 11 was the largest in U.S. history. It was an extremely complex financial firm with tens of thousand of customers, shareholders, and counter-party transactions.

In retrospect, many experts believe that the U.S. government should not have let Lehman go out of business. A bailout might have prevented the credit crisis. Lawyers and restructuring experts would have been needed either way, so it was never likely that their oxen were going to get gored.
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