Leveraged buyout powerhouse Kohlberg Kravis Roberts is the likely acquirer of the asset management businesses of Lehman Brothers, according to Lehman insiders.

KKR has recently announced its intention to diversify its LBO business to public equities, infrastructure, real estate and mezzanine debt û all areas covered by Lehman Brothers Asset Management (LBAM) and US affiliate Neuberger Berman.

One of the key details in the discussion is how to treat approximately $400 million of funding obligations across LBAM portfolios to the parent, Lehman Brothers Holding Inc, which is its biggest single investor. It is not clear whether a buyer such as KKR would be willing to fund these, now that Lehman Brothers Holding has been declared bankrupt.

The issue is immediate as Lehman Brothers Holding faces capital calls to its creditors and counterparties.

A Lehman executive involved in discussions with potential acquirers would not confirm KKRÆs role, or that selling to a strategic investor is the sole opportunity. ôWe have a lot of options on the table,ö he says.

But he also says the capital issue will not be a barrier. ôIt wonÆt hold up a deal,ö he says.

Sources who have identified KKR as the main bidder say if the talks fail, the principals of the $35 billion LBAM, which focuses on private equity and real estate, are prepared to effect a management-led buyout. Given the urgent capital issues, a decision by KKR is imminent.

Together with Neuberger Berman, which has a big high-net-worth clientele in America, LehmanÆs asset management arms manage $273 billion.