Bear Stearns Shareholders Approve JPMorgan Buyout

And so it ended on Thursday morning, rather quietly, for one of Wall Street’s largest mortgage-backed securities players. Bear Stearns Cos. investors approved JPMorgan & Chase Co.‘s (JPM) $2.2 billion buyout of the once high-flying firm, with Bear chairman Jimmy Cayne facing investors and apologizing to shareholders — many of them employees. “I personally apologize,” attendees quoted Cayne as saying, according to the Wall Street Journal. He apparently fiddled with the microphone as he spoke, as well, the Journal said; the Associated Press characterized the Bear Stearns chairman as “disheveled.” “I’m sorry,” he said. “Words can’t describe the feelings that I feel.” JPMorgan’s buyout essentially pegs Bear Stearns’ stock at about $10/share; that came after Bear shareholders had balked at an earlier $2/share offer. Of course, even the larger offer is of little consolation for many, given that the stock traded well above $150/share last year. Many will be wiped out after the deal is closed, which is expected to take place on Friday. Bear fell into trouble in June of last year when two of its hedge funds collapsed. From that point forward, the firm never really recovered from the mortgage mess. The Wall Street Journal’s three part series on the fall of Bear Stearns concluded today, appropriately enough, with a look at the company’s harried last few days. The story noted that the Wall Street firm had actually neared collapse twice before Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson stepped in to orchestrate the deal with JPMorgan. WSJ reporter Mike Spector also has live-blogged the sights and sounds of the final shareholders’ meeting. Disclosure: The author held no positions BSC or JPM when this story was originally published. HW reporters and writers follow a strict disclosure policy, the first in the mortgage trade.

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