PwC moves to placate Lehman back office job fears

PricewaterhouseCoopers, the administrators of the European operations of collapsed bank Lehman Brothers, has moved to allay fears of mass back office job cuts at the bank.

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PricewaterhouseCoopers, the administrators of the European operations of collapsed bank Lehman Brothers, has moved to allay fears of mass back office job cuts at the bank.

PwC is close to a deal with a single potential buyer, reported as Japanese bank Nomura, and expects to have a decision in a matter of hours.

“Keeping jobs continuing at Lehman is a priority for us,” said a spokesperson at PwC. The administrator is locked in talks with creditors that are owed money by the bank.

Concerns have been raised over what decisions potential buyers would make around back office staff, and whether a buyer would offshore most of the back office work. Lehman employs 6,400 staff in its European operations, 5,000 of which are at its regional headquarters in London.

Nomura is reportedly the only firm in discussions to buy Lehman’s European operation, after Barclays pulled out of the running. On Monday, Nomura acquired the Asian operations of the bank.

PwC wants a single buyer for the whole European operation, whereas Barclays had wanted to buy only the equities business, the Financial Times reported.

A deal for the equities unit could mean at least 800 to 1,500 staff would be retained, as well as 800 in corporate finance, depending on the back-office requirements of the administrator during its ongoing work, it has been reported.

Dan Schwarzmann, joint administrator and partner at PwC, said in a statement: "We have now focused on one party as they are interested in acquiring a wider team, which should result in a better deal for staff and creditors of these businesses. Given the complexity of Lehman Brothers, these negotiations are difficult, but I'm hoping to give certainty to all involved as soon as possible."

The administrator said it could not give more information on which jobs would be affected until talks had concluded. Nomura declined to comment.

Last week, unions said they would step up campaigns for back office and IT staff working in the financial services industry, adding that the sector was typically under-represented.

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