Lehman Europe creditors could get speedier payouts

Thousands of creditors of bankrupt US investment bank Lehman Brothers owed about $22bn will be offered earlier cash payments if they are willing to accept lower valuations on their claims.

PwC, which is in charge of the collapsed bank's main European operations, said that the majority of claims should be agreed by the end of the year and payouts made in 2011.

The traditional case-by-case approach would take years. The so-called “consensual approach” would value the claims on over 6,000 unsecured creditors of Lehman Brothers International Europe (LBIE).

“The consensual approach is an innovative mechanism which will enable the claims to be determined in an expeditious manner, resulting in significant time and cost savings to both unsecured creditors and LBIE,” said Steven Pearson, joint administrator and partner at PwC.

“The timing at which cash distributions can be made will be accelerated materially.”

The collapse of New York-based Lehman in September 2008 trapped the assets of thousands of its clients around the world, including hundreds of banks, insurers and hedge funds. Administrators have since been assessing the claims of creditors.

PwC's proposal needs the “overwhelming majority” of financial trading counterparties to support the process, Pearson said.

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