It has been a busy week for lawyers. All City firms are heavily involved in the aftermath of the global financial crisis after Monday morning’s chaos on Wall Street.
It all kicked off with the dramatic collapse of investment banking giant Lehman Brothers, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in New York and was placed into the administration of accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). In what are probably the largest legal mandates of the year, New York heavy-weight Weil Gotshal & Manges and magic circle firm Linklaters are handling the advice on the venerable Wall Street giant Lehman’s demise (15 September).
Lehman’s bankruptcy followed a last-ditch effort over the weekend to save the bank in a takeover by Bank of America, which derailed when Bank of America decided to buy New York investment bank Merrill Lynch instead – a lucrative mandate that New York firms Shearman & Sterling and Wachtell Lipton Rose & Katz scooped (15 September).
On Tuesday (16 September), UK bank Barclays re-emerged as a buyer for the healthier asset management and several other parts of Lehman’s business, which New York firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and magic circle firm Clifford Chance advised on (17 September).
In another market-shattering development on Wall Street, what had been the world’s largest insurer AIG was also at risk of going under and has been bailed out by US authorities with several multibillion dollar lifelines, advised by Weil Gotshal (yet again) as well as New York white shoe firm Sullivan & Cromwell (17 September).
But the fun and games did not stop, nor is it likely to – yesterday it emerged that the UK’s largest mortgage provider HBOS was seeking shelter in Lloyds TSB, which Allen & Overy (A&O) and Linklaters (yet again) (17 September).
Meanwhile, apparently every other firm in the City without a direct mandate has been getting inundated with queries for clients desperate to find out what all this means for them – conflict searches at the firms have been going into overdrive (16 September).
TheLawyer.com has been on the ball with the legal coverage of the crisis in a dedicated Wall Street woes blog.
And by all accounts, the action is still far from over – keep your eyes peeled and your money in a safe place.