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Soothing disgruntled Bear shareholders

Stephen Beard Mar 24, 2008


Lisa Napoli: That bargain-basement price JP Morgan hoped to pay probably wasn’t going to cut it for the shareholders of beleaguered Bear Stearns. So The New York Times says Morgan’s going to sweeten the deal from $2 a share to $10.

That’s still not making people like British billionaire Joe Lewis happy — he stands to lose a billion dollars if the takeover goes ahead. From London, Marketplace’s Stephen Beard says Lewis is gunning for a fight.

Stephen Beard: Joe Lewis — nicknamed “The Boxer” after the legendary heavyweight — has come out fighting. He bought his large stake in Bear at over a $100 a share. He’s angry that under the rescue deal, JP Morgan could now get his shares at only $2 a pop.

Lewis says he and other Bear shareholders can block the rescue. They can vote against it and they can litigate. JP Morgan’s trying to soothe angry Bear shareholders by sweetening its offer. The New York Times says JP’s now prepared to pay $10 a share.

But the Fed and the Treasury are said to be balking. They are underwriting the rescue. They, according to the Times, wanted Bear to go for a knockdown price so that it would not appear that the government was bailing out shareholders.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

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