Life After Lehman

The global financial crisis hasn’t dampened Charlie Ayres’s enthusiasm.


The private equity slump brought on by the global financial crisis hasn’t dampened Charlie Ayres’s enthusiasm. “The investing environment over the next 24 months is what I have been waiting for for 25 years,” says Ayres, global head of the merchant banking business of Lehman Brothers Holdings, the storied Wall Street firm that filed for bankruptcy last September. It looks like Ayres, 49, will keep his job, if a deal that was approved in late January by Lehman’s court-appointed managers and a committee of its creditors closes at the end of this month. Under the plan Lehman will retain a 51 percent stake in Lehman Brothers Merchant Banking Partners; South African billionaire Johann Rupert will acquire the remaining 49 percent stake for $10 million and invest $230 million in one of LBMBP’s funds, says Jack McCarthy Jr., a managing director at Alvarez & Marsal, the New York–based management consulting firm appointed by a federal bankruptcy judge to manage Lehman Brothers. LBMBP, which will be renamed, has $3.5 billion under management, of which $1.8 billion is in cash that Ayres, who will become CEO of the new entity, hopes to use to buy equity stakes in midmarket companies.