The message delivered to shocked Lehman Brothers staff on Monday was simple and direct. “It’s over,” announced Christian Meissner to a morning staff gathering just a week after being appointed to run Lehman’s Europe business. He told the staff to look for new work and “move on”. In Lehman’s offices around the globe, staff had little choice but to follow suit as they came to terms with the collapse of the 158-year-old institution, leaving workplaces with belongings hastily collected and their savings depleted. The mantra of Lehman Brothers was to pay its staff in stock – some 30% of the bank’s equity was held by employees and many bonuses were paid in shares. Now those holdings are all but worthless. Some staff were also told not to expect this month’s paycheck and that they might even be liable for expenses on their corporate credit cards. Others said they had been banned from sending emails and that BlackBerrys and mobile phones no longer worked. Some of Lehman’s senior bankers are expected to set up independent advisory boutiques in the near future.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008