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When Excel Gets in the News…

By Brian | October 20, 2008 | Share on Facebook

As a self-proclaimed spreadsheet jockey, stories like this hurt me in places I don’t like to talk about.  Others with similar exposure to spreadsheeting will no doubt understand:

Excel error leaves Barclays with unwanted Lehman assets

Barclays Capital has been forced to file a legal relief motion relating to its acquisition of Lehman Brothers’ US assets after a reformatting error with an Excel spreadsheet resulted in 179 contracts being mistakenly included in the purchase agreement.

The motion says that on 7:48pm on 18 September Barclays sent an Excel spreadsheet containing a list of contracts to be included in the asset purchase agreement to Cleary Gottlieb. The spreadsheet contained nearly 1000 rows with more than 24,000 individual cells and had to be reformatted and converted into a PDF document before being posted on the bankruptcy court’s Web site by the end of the day.

But a junior associate reformatting the work was unaware that the original Excel document included hidden rows containing contracts that were marked with an “n” to signify they should not be part of the deal. The document was posted on the Web site but the hidden cells had become visible when the employee globally re-sized the rows in the spreadsheet – without the original “n” designations.


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