Sullivan & Cromwell's Rodgin Cohen Tried To Save Lehman

He’ll work from weddings and hospital hallways.

Sullivan & Cromwell chairman H. Rodgin Cohen was in near-constant communication with Dick Fuld during the failed race to save Lehman, as described in the New York Times’ excerpt today of Andrew Ross Sorkin’s Too Big To Fail

Cohen, Sorkin wrote, “was one of the most influential and yet least well-known people on Wall Steet.”

Cohen was Lehman’s outside counsel and he was, not surprisingly, almost never off the clock.  Shortly before his niece’s wedding, he paced his Philadelphia hotel room while participating in a conferece call with the New York Fed and Lehman.  (It was Cohen who originally suggested to Lehman that it consdider turning itself into a bank holding company in order to achieve stability.)

When Fuld felt deflated after then-New York Fed chair Tim Geithner suggested Lehman might appear desperate — it was at the end of a day he met with Morgan Stanley officials about a potential purchase of Lehman — it was Cohen he turned to.

Fuld tracked down Cohen at the wedding, except by then Cohen had made a trip to the emergency room with a sick cousin.  From the hospital waiting room, apparently, Cohen got in touch with a Bank of America executive to begin trying to strike a deal.

It was of course the middle of a financial crisis, so desperate measures are expected.  But perhaps next time Wachtell Quinn Emanuel partner Bill Urquhart sends an email to associates about the necessity of always being available, he can point to the shining example of Cohen fielding calls from a hospital just-post his niece’s wedding. 

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