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No Rush, Everyone: $291M Lehman Real Estate Loan Gets Restructured 14 Years After it Was Issued

The former Lehman Brothers headquarters in Manhattan

Sometimes, you just have to take things slowly. The restructuring of a €252M ($291M, £214M) real estate loan has been agreed seven years after it was due for repayment, and 14 years after it was originally issued.

The loan in question was written by Lehman Brothers in April 2007, one of the late-cycle real estate deals that ultimately led to the bank’s collapse. 

The loan was secured against 11 office properties, mainly in Rome, which were valued at €342M in 2007. They are owned by a fund called Torre I, the manager of which is partly owned by U.S. private equity firm Fortress Investment.

The loan was partly securitised in November 2007, although Lehman could not sell all of the debt it tried to bundle and securitise because the credit crunch was starting to ramp up and investors were wary of buying real estate debt. That meant Lehman ended up owning a lot of the bonds it tried to sell

The loan was due for repayment in 2014, and bondholders were supposed to get their last chunk of money back in 2018. 

But a prolonged downturn in the Italian real estate market, added to the complexity of unwinding Lehman’s debt positions and the fact that Italian debt workouts tend to be slow processes, generally meant that a restructuring was only agreed yesterday, 12 October. 

According to a notice sent to bondholders by Mount Street, the servicer managing the loan, a standstill has been agreed until December 2022, during which time the portfolio won’t be put into bankruptcy. Over that time, the owners have to sell the properties and return the money to bondholders. 

Those bondholders are looking at a significant loss on the €252M they are owed. Mount Street said that the value of the portfolio was estimated at €70M to €120M. The current owner of the portfolio gets 3% of any sales proceeds above €50M, 4% of proceeds between €50M and €100M, and 5% of anything above €100M.