Ex-Lehman Brothers CEO Dick Fuld made an impassioned defense of his former company, and the decisions made in the 2008 financial crisis.
But not everyone who attended his speech was buying it.
Fuld still insists that in September 2008, his company was not bankrupt. In his speech, he repeatedly stated there was no single cause for the financial crisis.
Fuld also touted Lehman Brothers’ culture, as well as its’ employees’ stock ownership. The latter is a curious boast by Fuld, who said 30% of the company’s equity structure represented employee ownership. Virtually all of that equity was wiped out in 2008 when Lehman filed Chapter 11.
Along with the market talk, Fuld spoke of finding meaning in his personal life and cracked several jokes.
Before Fuld spoke, many on Wall Street weighed in on ‘The Gorilla’ and his return to the public spotlight after seven years of laying low. Most were skeptical.
Business Insider attended the event and spoke with speech attendees. While there were a few who supported Fuld, many remained critical of him.
- “A lot of people who worked at Lehman lost their life savings,” said one ex-Lehmanite who attended the Marcum Cronus MicroCap Conference in midtown Manhattan to hear Fuld speak.
- “He showed no remorse!” said an expressive attendee, who also wondered aloud why it took Fuld seven years to make his case to the public.
- “The company’s culture was nothing like what he made it out to be,” the former Lehman employee remarked.
- One attendee was supportive: “I thought he was candid,” he remarked. “To have been hated the way that [Fuld] was, and come back, and give a speech like this takes guts.”
Security was tight at the event, with at least one person escorted from the Marcum conference’s entrance. No one heckled Fuld on stage, but a CNBC correspondent attending the event overheard at least one wisecrack during the ex-Lehman CEO’s speech:
Overheard from a neighbor at a nearby table at #MarcumMicroCap listening to Fuld: “Nobody cares.”
— Kate Kelly (@KateKellyCNBC) May 28, 2015
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