Narrowly averting a massive meltdown, Wall Street firms Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch, along with insurer AIG, have all found a buyer. After weeks of intense negotiations and panic in the financial sector, and shortly after Lehman filed for bankruptcy, all three agreed to be bought by Walmart.
"We always try to look for bargains for our customers," said Walmart, "and this time we found three great ones." Scott was referring to the extremely low prices of the transactions. The AIG transaction was valued at $10 billion, while Merrill Lynch was "a steal", according to Scott, at $7 billion. The real deal was Lehman Brothers at $7.99 - not per share, but the total cost.
Walmart is rehiring Julie Roehm to see if she can help market the new parts of the Arkansas empire. Merrill Lynch and AIG will open branches in some Walmart stores. More striking, Lehman office equipment and staff will be sold on the shelves like regular products, mostly as paperweights. Lehman CEO Richard Fuld will take a new position in a Florida store as head of porcelain polishing.
US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson was quick to point out that the US government did not bail out Wall Street "this time," and predicted that the Wall Street crisis would now "end with a whimper instead of a bang." He then ran like hell as a bunch of investors spotted him and started rumbling.