The court-appointed examiner who investigated the collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers Holding Co is set to make his report public after a judge ruled he could do so on Thursday.
The report is expected to be the most comprehensive look at the 150-year-old firm's collapse into bankruptcy in September 2008, touching off the worst days of the global financial crisis.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge James Peck approved the public release of the report at a Manhattan hearing.
I consider this to be one of the most extraordinary pieces of work product I have ever encountered, Peck said in remarks from the bench. It reads like a best seller and it's so well organized that it's actually useful.
Anton Valukas, chairman of law firm Jenner & Block, was appointed as examiner in the case in January 2009. He was given the task of reporting on issues surrounding Lehman's collapse and how it pursued the sale of key assets to Barclays Plc
Valukas said in court he expected the report would be made publicly available within the next few hours and before the close of business.
The 2,200 page report was filed under seal with the court in February and has been withheld from public view because the examiner obtained much of the information subject to confidentiality agreements.
Most of the parties affected have agreed to cooperate with the examiner and the report would be made public with slight redactions, the examiner said.
About 12 pages of the report will be heavily redacted due to concerns about certain documents from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange parent CME Group Inc
An attorney for CME Group agreed at the hearing that they would later file a statement about their reasoning for withholding the information.
When Lehman filed for bankruptcy in September 2008 with more than $600 billion in debt, it was the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history. Under U.S. bankruptcy law, an examiner can be appointed in any bankruptcy case if someone requests it and the court finds the company's debts exceed $5 million.
We applaud the efforts of the examiner and this is a day we have been looking forward to, Lehman's lead bankruptcy attorney, Harvey Miller told the court. The unsealing of the report could not happen at a more opportune time.
Lehman is planning to file a reorganization plan this month that will explain how it intends to complete its bankruptcy, and the examiner's report has been viewed as integral to that process.
The case is In re: Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York, No. 08-13555.
(Reporting by Emily Chasan; editing by Leslie Gevirtz and Andre Grenon)