Wounded Bear Scrambles for a Savior

Stearns hopes to find a quick buyer in troubled times
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 15, 2008 3:38 PM CDT
Bear Stearns' traders and bankers inside the securities firm were glumly assessing the firm's value, which had fallen by 47% to just $3.48 billion in overall market capitalization.    (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, file)
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(Newser) – What's next for Bear Stearns? A Wall Street institution for the better part of a century, it is now scrambling to find a buyer. Its best hope is JP Morgan, which provided a temporary lifeline yesterday along with the Fed. But other possible suitors include Citibank and HSBC, the Wall Street Journal reports. In a sign of the times, the Journal notes that Bear's single biggest asset might be its building—the Madison Avenue digs could fetch $1.2 billion.

Bear first needs to decide whether to sell as a whole or split itself up—its prime brokerage unit, for example, might tempt some—and then figure out a value. In such a turbulent credit market, that will be difficult, and investors dispute the company’s self-proclaimed $80-a-share value. One employee invoked It’s a Wonderful Life: “Today is just that day at the Bailey Building & Loan,” he said.