Barclays yesterday agreed to buy Lehman Brothers’ North American investment banking platform for slightly less than $2bn, as a first step a potential series of deals aimed at reassembling Lehman’s banking operations in various countries.

Advisers for the two banks spent yesterday afternoon ironing out final details, while Barclays chief Bob Diamond and Lehman chief operating officer Bart McDade paced the halls of Lehman’s New York headquarters to spread word.

Barclays will initially purchase Lehman’s US and Canadian investment banking business but intends to extend its interests towards Lehman assets abroad once the initial transaction receives bankruptcy court approval and closes.

'The intent is to put Humpty Dumpty back together again, potentially over the next couple of weeks,' said one high-level Lehman banker.

Financial Times, Daily Telegraph