| NEW YORK
NEW YORK JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) could
complete its $10-a-share takeover of rival Bear Stearns Cos
BSC.N within "hours" after Bear stockholders vote on the
fire-sale offer on May 29, people familiar with the situation
When JPMorgan, with Federal Reserve assistance, made its
emergency March 16 offer of $2 a share for Bear, executives at
Morgan predicted the deal could be completed in about 90 days,
or mid- to late-June. Morgan raised its offer a week later to
$10 a share but still targeted a June closing.
JPMorgan on Monday declined to comment on the timing.
The deal may take place as late as June 1, the date on
which JPMorgan investment bank co-heads Steve Black and Bill
Winters said employees at Bear would know their fates,
according to an internal memo Monday.
More than half of Bear Stearns's 14,000 employees are
expected to lose their jobs following the merger, which was
prompted by Bears exposure to markets hard hit by the credit
crunch and concerns in the market that it did not have enough
capital to weather the storm.
Bear Stearns spokesman Russell Sherman did not return calls
Earlier on Monday, Bear set a date when stockholders would
vote on JPMorgan's offer though the meeting is merely a
formality. People familiar with the situation say the bigger
bank has already accumulated about a 49.5 percent stake in Bear
through several transactions.
The initial merger agreement was thrown together quickly
after Bear saw its cash levels plunge and nearly declared
bankruptcy in March. Morgan's senior corporate and investment
bank managers have scrutinized Bears assets and staff in the
Completing the deal sooner rather than later will help
Morgan, which hopes to bolster investment banking, energy and
other businesses. Wrapping things up would also help stem the
flow of clients and employees, whose careers have been stuck in
limbo for more than a month.
(Reporting by Joseph A. Giannone; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)