Bear Stearns' Cayne, holder seek rival bid: report

NEW YORK Wed Mar 19, 2008 11:35am EDT

James Cayne, Chairman of Bear Stearns & Co., speaks to reporters in New York on November 13, 2003 during the second annual Reuters Finance Summit. REUTERS/Chip East

James Cayne, Chairman of Bear Stearns & Co., speaks to reporters in New York on November 13, 2003 during the second annual Reuters Finance Summit.

Credit: Reuters/Chip East

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bear Stearns Cos Inc BSC.N Chairman James Cayne and top shareholder Joe Lewis are quietly searching for a bidder that would top the offer from JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), the New York Post reported on Wednesday.

Cayne and Lewis have contacted private equity firms, including J.C. Flowers and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co KKR.UL, as well as overseas banks Barclays (BARC.L), HSBC (HSBA.L), Credit Suisse (CSGN.VX), and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L), the paper said, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Cayne and Lewis combined hold nearly 15 percent of the stock of cash-strapped Bear Stearns.

The all-stock offer from JP Morgan values Bear Stearns at about $280 million, compared to its valuation of $7.7 billion a week ago.

Bear Stearns was not immediately available to comment. JPMorgan declined to comment.

Bear Stearns shares, which have been trading above the offer of about $2.40 at current stock prices, were down 7.1 percent at $5.49 in morning trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Chris Reiter, editing by Dave Zimmerman)