In a celebration of its first full year of independence from the bankrupt Lehman Brothers, Neuberger Berman held a midyear outlook luncheon on Tuesday, June 8, in its corporate headquarters in midtown Manhattan. And while the outlook’s subject was the overall U.S. economy, it could well have been the asset management firm itself.
“The memory of what we’ve been through is still very fresh,” said Arthur Moretti, Neuberger Berman’s senior portfolio manager of the core equity team, during a question-and-answer period. “Caution may be a good thing.”
The road to self-ownership is not complete. While Neuberger Berman‘s portfolios, research, and operating functions today remain intact and self-managed, 48% of the firm is owned by the Lehman estate. Though caution may be key during this recovery period, the good news is that the 52% of the assets owned by the firm have doubled in value to about $2 billion in May 2010 from $1 billion in May 2009. Neuberger Berman paid $1 billion to set itself free from Lehman.
“The firm will continue to be employee-owned, and we hope even more so going forward,” said Neuberger Berman Chairman and CEO George Walker during comments at the luncheon. “We are excited to be an independent, debt-free, self-controlled company.”
Neuberger Berman, which employs 1,700 people on several continents and manages a wide range of mutual funds and other investments, saw net inflows of $2.9 billion for the quarter ended March 31. Client assets under management (AUM) totaled $180 billion as of that date, compared to $160 billion of assets on November 30, 2008.
Having served as Lehman Brothers’ asset management unit from 2003 to 2008, Neuberger Berman was on hand to see the sudden demise of its parent company in September 2008. Under the terms of the liquidation overseen by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, Neuberger Berman was sold to its management team on December 3 of that year.