Barclays will buy Lehman units, save up to 10,000 jobs

British banking giant Barclays bsc announced Tuesday night that it has agreed to buy Lehman Bros.' leh investment banking and trading operations.

Barclays said it would acquire North American trading assets worth about $72 billion and liabilities of $68 billion, plus putting up $250 million in cash. It said it would also buy the firm's New York headquarters and its two data centers at close to their current market value, an estimated $1.5 billion.

The agreement will save up to 10,000 Lehman jobs two days after the nation's fourth-largest investment bank sought bankruptcy-court protection.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Barclays," Robert Diamond Jr., Barclays president, said in a statement.

On Wednesday, Barclays said it may pick up some of Lehman Brothers assets and employees in Europe and Asia.

"We wouldn't want to miss the opportunity to add some of the talent from the U.K. and Europe to the team," Diamond said.

Lehman initially had scheduled a U.S. Bankruptcy Court hearing in New York on Tuesday that was to include a discussion of "approving a sale of certain assets." The hearing was postponed to today.

Barclays was known to be interested in Lehman's core broker-dealer division, merger-and-acquisitions unit and other capital markets assets last weekend, when the two sides discussed an outright purchase of Lehman. But that larger deal collapsed when the U.S. government would not guarantee the purchase.

Lehman ultimately filed its $639 billion Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition — the largest in history — on Monday.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday he had urged Lehman CEO Richard Fuld, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and New York Fed President Tim Geithner "to do all they can to ensure a timely deal" to save Lehman jobs in the New York area.

Lehman previously announced it was pursuing separate "advanced discussions" with unnamed potential buyers of its investment management division.

Private-equity firms are among the likely suitors, said Fred Cannon, a research analyst at Keefe Bruyette & Woods.

Lehman shares closed Tuesday at 30 cents, an increase of 9 cents.

Bankruptcy-court filings showed that JPMorgan Chase advanced Lehman $138 billion since Monday, enabling Lehman to continue trading and avoiding "a disruption of the financial markets."