Barclays Capital, the investment-banking division of the UK's second-largest bank, Barclays Ltd., has taken over the Israeli branch of collapsed investment bank Lehman Brothers to relaunch its position in the local market.
"There are layoffs all across Wall Street and we managed to keep all of our team without having to cut one single person," Len Rosen, CEO of Barclays Capital Israel and former head of Lehman's Israel operations, said Tuesday at a press conference in Tel Aviv. "We were not sold to anyone but hired by Barclays Capital."
Barclays Capital Israel is hiring all 20 former Lehman Brothers Israel employees - nine investment bankers, two research analysts and nine back-office workers.
Barclays operates in more than 50 countries and serves 42 million clients.
Rosen said Lehman's bankruptcy was totally unexpected.
"We experienced shock," he said. "Initially, we had no owner and could negotiate for ourselves. More than two banks were interested in taking us over but we decided to go with Barclays Capital. We were an opportunity for an investment bank to become number one in Israel."
Lehman has led three of the four largest acquisitions by Israeli companies, including Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd.'s purchases of Barr Pharmaceuticals and Ivax.
"We have advised seven out of 10 landmark deals by Israeli companies, including M&A [mergers and acquisitions] deals and most companies listed on Nasdaq," Rosen said.
Barclays used to operate a bank in Israel but sold it in 1993 to Israel Discount Bank as part of its plan to close its global commercial-banking operations. Since then, Barclays has had no representation in Israel, although the bank has worked on a few fixed-income deals.
Rosen said he was confident Barclays Capital Israel would expand and offer additional banking services.
"We will work on everything we have been working on before," he said. "Barclays has a $27 trillion balance sheet, and it is my intent to bring a set of Barclays products such as commodities, futures and interest-rate trading to Israel to the extent that our clients want them."