Barclays to buy parts of Lehman Brothers

UK bank Barclays has announced plans to buy Lehman Brothers North American investment banking and capital markets businesses, days after the company filed for bankruptcy.

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“The board of Barclays announces that Barclays has agreed, subject to US Court and relevant regulatory approvals, to acquire Lehman Brothers… investment banking and capital markets operations and supporting infrastructure,” said the bank, Britain's third largest.

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Barclays said it would acquire trading assets with an estimated value of £40 billion ($A89.66 billion) and trading liabilities worth £38 billion ($A85.17 billion). It will also acquire Lehman's New York headquarters.

At the weekend, the bank walked away from a merger deal with the beleaguered US investment giant, saying such a tie-up would not have been in the best interests of Barclays' shareholders.

Lehman went bankrupt on Monday, plunging the global financial system into turmoil.

'Once in a lifetime opportunity'

The massive Lehman bankruptcy filing in US federal court in New York listed $US639 billion ($A804.99 billion) in assets and $US613 billion ($A772.23 billion) in debt.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Barclays,” said the bank's president, Robert Diamond.

“We will now have the best team and most productive culture across the world's major financial markets, backed by the resources of an integrated universal bank.

“We welcome the opportunity to add Lehman's people and capabilities to the Barclays team.”

In the same statement, Lehman Brothers' chief operating officer, Herbert McDade, said: “Lehman Brothers strength has always been our client franchise.

“With this transaction, we have the opportunity to continue the growth and development of our US investment banking and capital market franchises with one of the leading financial institutions in the world.”