Barclays wants Lehman rump
Barclays has decided to try to "buy" the core of Lehman, its US broker-dealer business and its mergers-and-acquisitions team.
The best way of seeing this is not as a purchase of assets. Barclays does not want either Lehman's toxic investments in the residential and commercial property markets, nor does it want to unwind its extant, unsettled transactions.
What it wants is the 8,000 to 10,000 US employees which it sees as formidable profit generators.
But the value of these employees' relationships with clients is withering by the hour.
So if Barclays is to pick them up out of insolvency, it has to move fast.
If a deal is done, it'll be completed in hours.
As for the 5,000 Lehman staff in London, the outlook for them remains gloomy - since, as of now, it's unlikely Barclays will hire them (though that could change).
The big question for Barclays' shareholders is whether the bank will need to raise new capital to fund this deal. I wouldn't rule it out.
But history shows that the biggest investment gains are made by those who buy when all around are panicking that the end is nigh, when markets are close to bottom.
So if Barclays picks up the rump of Lehman, it may look very smart a few years from now.