Lehman Brothers (LEH) appears to have averted a Bear Stearns-like financial crisis with plans to raise $6 billion. But the storied investment bank, now the smallest of the major Wall Street firms, may ultimately face the same fate: the end of its independence.
Takeover rumors have dogged Lehman ever since the bank went public in 1994. A few months after the IPO, Lehman's stock tanked, prompting speculation that insurance company Travelers (TRV) would swoop in at the sale price. Investors were betting on much the same for Lehman in 1998 after the collapse of hedge fund Long Term Capital sparked a bankruptcy scare. Yet Lehman always emerged intact. "Somehow these guys never die," says Roy Smith, a professor at New York University's Stern School of Business.