NEW YORK With Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.s future in question, institutional investors are focused on the fate of the investment banks highly successful asset management business.
The investment unit, which managed $273 billion as of Aug. 31, is considered by many sources to be the only salvageable business within the wreck of the once-venerable investment bank.
Every institution that uses Lehmans asset management services is counting on George H. Walker, managing director and the charismatic global head of the investment management division along with other Lehman executives to pull off something of a miracle by keeping the investment team together, regardless of the ultimate owner.
This is a classic example of a really strong unit stuck inside an unhealthy company, said Eric C. Weber, principal and chief operating officer of boutique investment bank Freeman & Co. LLC, New York. George Walker is a great talent running what is a wonderful business. Its the one thing of value left within Lehman, and a lot of people will want to get their hands on it.
The unit includes several investment teams, notably Neuberger Berman LLC, the New York-based wealth and mutual fund manager Lehman acquired in 2003 when Neuberger managed $64 billion.
As of Aug. 31, Lehman Brothers Asset Management, of which Neuberger Berman investment teams are the major component, managed $235 billion, while the firms alternative investment units managed $38 billion in private equity, real estate and hedge funds of funds. In total, the firm manages $150 billion on behalf of institutional investors.