PWC seeks to avoid court by offering Lehman deal to creditors

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PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accountancy group overseeing the winding down of Lehman Brothers, may seek an out-of-court settlement to return billions of dollars to creditors.

PwC plans to offer $17bn (£11bn) of the assets remaining from the collapsed bank's European operations directly to creditors after its original proposals were rejected by the High Court in London.

The company started drawing up an alternative plan after Mr Justice Blackburne said in July there was "no jurisdiction" to set a deadline, or "bar date" for creditors to file claims.

The accountancy firm has appealed against the decision – which will be heard on 26 October – but said in the meantime it was "anxious that the appeal process should not lead to any unnecessary delay in the return of client assets".

In parallel to the appeal process, PwC has outlined a new settlement arrangement. It is similar to the original scheme presented to the High Court for volunteers, but the firm added that the plan would not require court sanction.

PWC has already returned $13bn of Lehman assets through bilateral agreements with creditors and said it would continue to seek similar agreements on an individual basis. It said it would be able to distribute much of the assets under its control "without the need to allocate shortfalls to clients".