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Wed 24 Sep 2008 10:08 AM

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Lehman staff thrown lifeline

Japan's Nomura buys Lehman's Middle East business, says 'significant proportion' of jobs will be saved.

The jobs of Lehman Brothers employees working in the Gulf could be saved after Japan's Nomura Holdings on Tuesday swooped for the bankrupt US bank's equities and investment banking business in Europe and the Middle East.

There were fears that the majority of Lehman's employees in the region would find themselves out of work after last week's shock collapse of the United State's fourth largest investment bank, but Nomura said it expects to retain "a significant proportion" of the 2,500 staff employed in the businesses.

Lehman employs around 60 staff in its Dubai office. The bank also has offices in Qatar and Kuwait. Recruiters in Dubai have reported a huge influx of CVs from Lehman employees working both within and outside the Gulf.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Lehman's administrators in London, were not immediately available for comment when contacted by Arabian Business.

Nomura paid a "nominal" sum for the businesses, without being more specific, and will not take on any trading assets or trading liabilities, according to Sadeq Sayeed, a senior advisor to the bank involved.

The deal is the Japanese bank's second purchase of Lehman's overseas assets in as many days after it bought Lehman's Asia-Pacific arm on Monday.

The other bank to swoop on the remains of Lehman is Britain's Barclays, which snapped up the US broker-dealer business on Monday.

Meanwhile, a second Japanese bank, Mitsubishi, on Monday agreed to buy an equity stake in Morgan Stanley of up to $8.5 billion as the investment bank moves ahead with its transformation into a commercial bank.

The two remaining Wall Street investment banks Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs have been granted approval to become bank holding companies regulated by the US Federal Reserve in an attempt to stop the pair suffering the same fate as Lehman.

Sayeed said Nomura bought Lehman's assets as part of a strategy to expand outside its home market after failing over the last two decades to grow organically. He said the bank had been eyeing foreign acquisitions "for quite some time".

"The world of investment banking has changed dramatically in a short space of time because of mistakes made in the last five years. Nomura has not made many of these mistakes," he said.