Lehman Winners and Losers

Sep.24.08 | About: Lehman Bros (LEHMQ)

Lehman CEO Fuld Cashes Out 2.87 Million Shares

... For $639,082.

Dick Fuld, CEO and Chairman of the Board of the now-defunct Lehman Brothers (OTC:LEHMQ), cashed out most of his remaining shares in the company at about 20 cents a share on Wednesday, Sept. 17. Fuld pocketed $639K in the sale. A year ago, those shares were worth $168.7 million.

Fuld still owns 503,744 shares in Lehman, which were last trading at ... zero. The stock stopped trading on Sept. 17. Perhaps Fuld is going to sell his remaining stock certificates on eBay. Remember when Enron went under? Those stock certificates were big sellers! Everybody framed them for their walls to remember the day that a company went belly-up for creating and trading esoteric instruments. Sound familiar?

Maybe Fuld will donate the proceeds from the sale of his Lehman Brothers stock (and the nearly $490 million that he's "earned" over the past 14 years by selling options and grants) to the 25,000 employees left jobless due to Lehman's bankruptcy.

Even better, perhaps Fuld will write a check to the Treasury payable to U.S. taxpayers. After all, his company was instrumental in creating, trading, and profiting from the derivatives crisis that is now costing U.S. taxpayers hundreds of billions to mop up.

More likely, he's deposited it into his legal-defense fund, which he may need to tap sooner rather than later.

And the Winner Is ...

By most accounts, hedge fund billionaire David Einhorn seems to be the biggest winner in the Lehman Brothers implosion. Einhorn is president and founder of $6 billion hedge fund Greenlight Capital.

Einhorn has been shorting Lehman Brothers since at least November 2007 when the stock was trading around $60 per share and routinely challenged Lehman's management to come clean about the true liability of its mortgage-related holdings.

In a June 2008 interview with CNBC following Lehman Brothers' announcement that it had raised $6 billion in capital after reporting a $2.8 billion loss for the quarter, Einhorn pointed out, "[Lehman Brothers has] raised billions of dollars they said they didn't need to replace losses they said they didn't have."

Einhorn's warnings proved to be correct. And his firm reportedly walked away with $3.1 billion from its Lehman shorts, according to a report in London's Evening Standard. That's about double what Barclays (NYSE:BCS) recently offered for the most valuable parts of Lehman.

Einhorn made some interesting insider trading moves this week as well. After adding 2.4 million shares of oil exploration and services company Helix Energy Solutions Group (NYSE:HLX) worth $67 million from Sept. 10 - 15, Einhorn abruptly sold 28% of his holdings, or 3.5 million shares, of HLX worth about $94.7 million on Sept. 17.

It's a curious move, considering Greenlight had raised its stake to 13.8% of the company over the past year. But HLX hit an intraday 52-week low on Sept. 16. So perhaps Einhorn has decided to pare some of his losses in HLX.