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Can Lehman build on Grange?

Lehman Brothers’ acquisition of Grange Securities divides opinion.

Bulge brackets move the outback to the forefront

Brutal competition for asset management

Tapping a growing rich list

It is widely accepted that a bank with no presence in Australia has to acquire to get one rather than hope to build it organically. People can also see the synergies between Lehman, whose strongest suit is debt, and Grange, whose only suit, arguably, is debt. It’s in two other areas that eyebrows get raised: the price paid and Lehman’s ambition to make its buy a full-service investment bank.

Both sides have declined to name the purchase price but it is understood that Lehman paid A$120 million (US$100 million) for Grange, which has both perplexed and impressed people in the Australian banking sector. Founded in 1995, Grange has five business areas, covering fixed income, equities, corporate advisory, private investor services and asset management; it’s widely understood that the first of those groups dominates revenues. Glenn Willis, managing director and country head for Australia at Grange, declines to put a percentage on it, except to say: "It’s currently well over half the revenue of Grange" and that he has aggressive growth plans for all the other areas.

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