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Lehman, Creditors Agree on Plan Approval Timeline

Date: Thursday, April 14, 2011
Author: Nick Brown, Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters)—Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. on Wednesday [April 13] agreed to put creditors' competing restructuring plans on the same timeline for court approval as its own plan, but reserved the right to raise future objections.

Lehman told a bankruptcy court judge it reached an agreement to resolve a dispute with an ad hoc creditor group led by hedge fund Paulson & Co. and the California Public Employees' Retirement System prior to Wednesday's hearing.

The Paulson group proposed a competing Chapter 11 reorganization plan in December 2010 that would boost bondholder recoveries to nearly 25 percent. The group is permitted to seek court approval at a hearing on June 28 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan — the same day that Lehman's plan is slated for consideration. Plans approved by the court are sent to creditors for approval.

The Paulson group is the only one so far to offer a competing plan, but a handful of banks, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley, have hinted they may propose a third plan.

The agreement preserves parties' rights to object to the plans and consideration processes in the future, said Harvey Miller, an attorney for Lehman.

Some creditors, including Goldman, initially believed Lehman had waived its right to future objections, according to a motion filed by Lehman on April 7. That position was the result of an "over-excited" misinterpretation, according to the motion. Lehman said it was willing to put competing plans on the same calendar, but never agreed to waive objections.

The Paulson group, which claims about $20 billion from Lehman, said the company's plan favors large banks that were creditors of its derivatives business. While Lehman's latest plan would provide 21.4 percent recovery for the Paulson group and other bondholders — up from 14.7 percent in its original plan — it would also provide more than 34 cents on the dollar for derivatives creditors.

The Paulson group's proposal would yield a 24.5 percent recovery for bondholders and 25.7 percent for derivatives creditors.

Lehman filed for Chapter 11 protection on Sept. 15, 2008. At the time, it reported $639 billion of assets, six times more than any other U.S. company to go bankrupt.

By Nick Brown