Bloomberg News

Lehman Brothers' Indian Unit, Stodir, Hardy Amies: Bankruptcy

October 01, 2008

Olivant Ltd., run by former UBS AG President Luqman Arnold, said it's holding talks with the administrators of Lehman Brothers International Europe to get back its stake in UBS.

The company's 2.78 percent stake in Switzerland's biggest bank by assets is held through the Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. (LEHMQ:US) unit, London-based Olivant said today in an e-mailed statement. Lehman filed for protection from creditors in the U.S. on Sept. 15.

``Olivant Ltd. is evaluating the position of its interest in UBS and is in contact with the administrators to secure these assets,'' it said in the statement. Olivant increased its UBS stake this year from 0.7 percent.

In response to criticism from investors including Arnold, UBS Chairman Peter Kurer plans to split its investment banking and wealth management units and bring more financial expertise to the board of directors. Kurer will ask shareholders to approve four new appointments at a meeting tomorrow.

Because of the administrative problem, Olivant won't be able to exercise its votes there, the Financial Times reported today, citing Arnold. Olivant has been unable to locate the shares in spite of ``intensive'' talks with Lehman and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC, the administrators for Lehman's Europe unit, the FT said.

Olivant Chief Operating Officer Kirk Stephenson was killed last week after being struck by a train. The British Transport Police said there were ``no suspicious circumstances.''

Lehman's Mumbai Back-Office Operations to be Sold, Times Says

The final bids for Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.'s back- office operations in Mumbai will be made today, the Economic Times reported, citing people that it didn't identify.

The sale of the business, located in the Powai area of Mumbai, may be completed in a few days, the newspaper said.

Barclays, which acquired Lehman's North American investment banking unit, may be the most likely buyer, the newspaper said. Other companies interested in the business included Credit Suisse and two private equity firms, the Times said.

Baugur Says Funding Secure After Investor Gets Court Protection

Baugur Group Hf, the Icelandic owner of British fashion chains Karen Millen, Warehouse and Oasis, said its funding is stable after one of its shareholders filed for protection from creditors.

Stodir hf, the Icelandic investment company which agreed in July to take a 39 percent stake in Baugur, filed for protection at the District Court of Reykjavik after Glitnir Bank hf was nationalized on Sept. 29. Stodir owns 32 percent of Glitnir, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

``Baugur would like to state for clarity that its assets are based in the U.K., Scandinavia and the U.S. and as such have no exposure to the Icelandic economy,'' Chief Executive Officer Gunnar Sigurdsson said in an e-mailed statement today. ``At the same time, the funding for these businesses is secure and the vast majority of this funding is through international banks with whom Baugur has a long working relationship.''

Reykjavik-based Baugur is continuing to ``perform well'' in ``evidently tough market conditions'' and ``it's business as usual'' for the retailer, the CEO said.

Hardy Amies Will Fine Notice of Intent to Appoint Administrator

Hardy Amies Plc, the couturier whose founder made dresses for Queen Elizabeth II, said it will file a notice of intent to appoint an administrator after main investor Arev Brands Ltd. cut off funding.

The board is in talks with several parties about financing and will continue to seek a solution, the London-based company said today in a Regulatory News Service statement. Its stock last traded in Sept. 25. The discussions' outcome is unclear, Hardy Amies said.

Hardy Amies was reliant on Arev, owner of almost half its stock, to finance day-to-day activities and the opening of stores for ready-to-wear men's and women's ranges. The women's collections failed to appeal to shoppers, forcing the clothier to scale back development plans as plunging financial markets and higher living costs hurt spending on luxury goods.

European Unemployment Increases to Highest in More Than a Year

European unemployment increased to the highest in more than a year in August as the economic slowdown took its toll on the labor market.

The jobless rate in the 15-nation euro area rose to 7.5 percent, the highest since May 2007, from a revised 7.4 percent in July, the European Union's statistics office in Luxembourg said today. The figures for May, June and July were revised higher to 7.4 percent from 7.3 percent. Economists forecast the rate would remain at 7.3 percent in August, according to the median of 36 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey.

European manufacturing contracted more than initially estimated in September, extending a slump that saw the euro-area economy shrink in the second quarter. The global credit crisis is starting to hit payrolls, with Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. (LEH:US), the securities firm that filed for bankruptcy-court protection last month, eliminating 750 jobs in Europe.

The manufacturing survey will ``heighten fears that the euro zone is headed for recession,'' said Howard Archer, chief European economist at Global Insight Inc. in London. ``On top of this, employment in the sector contracted for a fourth month,'' adding to the ``increasingly worrying news on euro-zone jobs.''

To contact the reporter on this story: Caroline Binham in London at cbinham@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net.


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