Lehman hit by desertion of Amex investors

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The Independent Online
NEW YORK - Shares in Lehman Brothers, the Wall Street investment bank, opened for trading yesterday but quickly lost ground as shareholders of its former parent, American Express, cashed in their holdings, writes Larry Black.

Several large blocks changed hands soon after 98 million of Lehman's 105 million shares were distributed to Amex holders yesterday morning. By midday they were trading at dollars 18 each - below the dollars 19 range of last week, when it began trading on a 'when-issued' basis, and well shy of the dollars 25.53 Amex put on the shares when the spin-off was announced in April.

Lehman Brothers, once one of Wall Street's most influential partnerships, was acquired by American Express in 1981 as part of its ill- fated drive into financial services. Amex merged Lehman with its retail brokerage arm, Shearson, only to split them last year when it sold the brokerage to Travelers Corp.

Securities analysts agreed the price was affected by the fact that some American Express institutional shareholders own the stock as part of an index fund.

The brokerage sector has also suffered in recent months as booming markets have begun to slow. While 1994 and 1995 profits will decline from their 1993 records, share prices in securities appear to have hit their lows.

''Had Lehman been spun off last September, it would have been trading in the dollars 25 range,' said Perrin Long, analyst with First of Michigan Securities in Detroit. Lehman says its shares are still being hurt by the Shearson link.