Excel error leaves Barclays with unwanted Lehman assets

Excel error leaves Barclays with unwanted Lehman assets

Barclays Capital has been forced to file a legal relief motion relating to its acquisition of Lehman Brothers' US assets after a reformatting error with an Excel spreadsheet resulted in 179 contracts being mistakenly included in the purchase agreement.

Barclays Capital's law firm, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, filed a motion with the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York on Friday asking for the contracts to be excluded from the deal.

The motion says that on 7:48pm on 18 September Barclays sent an Excel spreadsheet containing a list of contracts to be included in the asset purchase agreement to Cleary Gottlieb.

The spreadsheet contained nearly 1000 rows with more than 24,000 individual cells and had to be reformatted and converted into a PDF document before being posted on the bankruptcy court's Web site by the end of the day.

But a junior associate reformatting the work was unaware that the original Excel document included hidden rows containing contracts that were marked with an "n" to signify they should not be part of the deal.

The document was posted on the Web site but the hidden cells had become visible when the employee globally re-sized the rows in the spreadsheet - without the original "n" designations.

The error was not spotted until 1 October and Barclays posted a revised list of contracts, with notice to the affected parties.

Cleary Gottlieb has now filed a relief motion asking the court to "correct the record to accurately reflect Barclays' actual designations and confirm that those agreements that were erroneously posted are not closing date contracts".

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