Lehman Bros sitting on enough uranium to make a bomb (Lead)

April 16th, 2009 - 9:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Lehman Brothers By Arun Kumar
Washington, April 16 (IANS) Apart from its “toxic assets”, the bankrupt investment bank Lehman Brothers’ is sitting on as much as 500,000 pounds of uranium yellowcake - enough to make a nuclear bomb, said alarming reports in media here.

But like the toxic sub-prime mortgages that brought down the storied Wall Street icon, it can’t get rid of the ore, because with the possible exception of North Korea, nobody is willing to cough up the price it wants, the New York Post said Wednesday.

The failed firm, which just before imploding acquired the stockpile last fall, is holding off selling until prices improve, it said citing sources. “We are not planning to sell at a price that’s not advantageous,” the Post quoted an unnamed firm official as saying.

Lehman Brothers, which is selling off its assets in bankruptcy, is holding on to the uranium for now because prices for the commodity have dropped significantly in the past four months.

“Prices for uranium are falling as the global economic crisis has some fearing that China and India won’t move forward with plans for new nuclear plants, which would lower demand,” the Wall Street journal suggested.

Bryan Marsal, Lehman Brothers’ chief executive and founder of turnaround firm Alvarez & Marsal, told Bloomberg that Lehman Brothers plans to sell the yellowcake when the market improves “to realise the best prices.”

The uranium stockpile might fetch $20 million at today’s prices of about $40.50 per pound, Bloomberg said citing unnamed traders. Marsal said the traders’ estimate of Lehman’s uranium holding is “reasonable,” while declining to be more specific.

A supply of 500,000 pounds of yellowcake is just “slightly” less than the amount needed to make one bomb, or fuel one nuclear power reactor for a year, if the latest enrichment technologies are used, it said citing Gennady Pshakin, an Obninsk, Russia-based non-proliferation expert.

Lehman, once the fourth-largest investment bank, has an estimated $200 billion in unsecured liabilities left to pay.

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