Global Business

Lehman Contagion Spreads to Asia

Japanese units of the investment bank also file for bankruptcy, one of the largest there since World War II.
Stephen TaubSeptember 17, 2008

Lehman Brothers’ woes are being heavily felt in Japan — where the failed investment bank Lehman Brothers Japan Inc. and Lehman Brothers Holdings Japan Inc. units also filed for bankruptcy.

The two units reported $38 billion in combined liabilities, according to Bloomberg News, citing Teikoku Databank Ltd.

They become Japan’s second-largest bankruptcy since World War II, behind Kyoei Life Insurance Co.’s 2000 filing, the report said.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Financial Services Agency ordered Lehman to suspend all financial instruments business until Sept. 26, excluding transactions for implementation and resolution of past contracts issued before Friday, Sept. 12 ,and transactions about return of deposited assets, the regulator said on its website.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that Lehman’s Seoul units will be suspended from some operations, citing South Korea’s Financial Services Commission. That measure is “aimed at protecting local investors and prompting adequate implementations of foreign exchange and derivates contracts,” the regulator said in an E-mailed statement. The wire service noted that South Korean firms have invested about $720 million in securities linked to Lehman, Bloomberg reported, citing the Korean watchdog agency.

The wire service also noted that three Lehman units suspended operations in Hong Kong.

Separately, Japan’s banks and insurers announced a combined $2.4 billion of potential losses tied to the collapse of Lehman, Bloomberg reported. It noted that banks, including Mitsubishi UFJ, Japan’s largest, disclosed assets that might become worthless following Lehman’s filing for bankruptcy protection.

Mizuho Trust & Banking Co. cut its profit forecast by more than half, citing losses on bonds and loans linked to Lehman, according to the report.