By Sarah White and Luke Jeffs
LONDON (Reuters) - The European arm of Lehman Brothers is planning a November payout to unsecured creditors, its first since the U.S. investment bank's collapse four years ago, after attempts to return cash were slowed by legal disputes and snowballing claims.
PricewaterhouseCoopers, which has been handling the UK part of the Lehman administration, is yet to announce the exact size of the payment.
So far, it has agreed 3.9 billion pounds ($6.3 billion) worth of claims with unsecured creditors - clients which usually rank at the bottom of the creditor hierarchy.
But many more requests than those have been filed, and PwC estimates that total unsecured claims could end up being as high as 54.6 billion pounds.
Payouts have been delayed as PwC has to verify all claims before both parties can then agree on what it hands out.
"There have been huge obstacles preventing us from making a first distribution from the general estate to unsecured creditors," said Tony Lomas, the lead administrator of Lehman Europe at PwC.
Clients with funds that were kept in separate accounts and were easier to process are the only ones to have got some money back from the European business since Lehman's collapse in the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history.
They have so far received 13.5 billion pounds worth of securities and cash, PwC said.
The administrator added it also planned to make a first distribution from yet another pool of client money next year, and that it will be recovering another $8 billion of segregated securities and cash from another part of Lehman's estate, to be returned to clients of Lehman Europe.
PwC said it had so far been paid around 563 million pounds for its work on the administration.
(Reporting by Sarah White; Editing by Luke Jeffs and Mark Potter)