Lehman Brothers Crash Does Not Necessarily Mean Loss for Local Investors

Bank Leumi and Bank Hapoalim's exposure to the fate of the collapsed U.S.-based Lehman Brothers investment bank, to the tune of $95 million and $109 million respectively, doesn't necessarily mean that the banks will have to write off these amounts. These figures represent the maximum losses, but at this stage it remains unclear how much bond holders will be able to recover after Lehman's collapse.

In addition to the local banking sector, with a total exposure estimated at about $300 million, there are Israeli brokerages that have yet to reveal the depths of their risk.

Late last week insurance companies and investment houses scrambled to assess the risk posed to their assets by Lehman's collapse. So far institutional investor risk has been found to be relatively low, totaling a few million dollars at Harel, Menorah, Mivtachim and Clal, and about $10 million in the large provident funds Gadish and Psagot. Some institutional investors are also exposed to Lehman Brothers through investments in mutual funds.

But also at risk are some $60 million invested by Old Mivtachim, the veteran pension fund operating under a fund member's management arrangement, an unusually high exposure in comparison to other institutional investors, and the Israel Electric Corporation workers' NIS 15 billion pension fund managed by Clal Insurance, with an exposure of NIS 200 million, TheMarker learned. Clal says its other long-term savings products are managed separately from the IEC workers' pension fund, and are not substantially at risk.