Lehman, Bear Officials Made $2.5 Billion, Study Says (Update1)


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Published in Bloomberg November 23, 2009 by Matt Townsend 
Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Bear Stearns Cos. executives made $2.5 billion from 2000 to 2008, a sign pay policies may have encouraged risk- taking that doomed the companies, a Harvard University study said.
The top five officials at Lehman, which filed for bankruptcy in September 2008, received $1.03 billion in cash bonuses and proceeds from equity sales during the period, according to the report, “The Wages of Failure,” released today by Harvard Law School’s Program on Corporate Governance. Bear Stearns’s top executives made $1.46 billion in the years before JPMorgan Chase & Co. agreed to buy the firm in 2008.
Losses the executives suffered when the firms failed were outweighed by payoffs in the preceding eight years, the study said, concluding that the “standard narrative” that the meltdown of Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns wiped out top executive’s wealth was incorrect and should be viewed skeptically in the debate over pay regulation.

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