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JPMorgan Puts Bear Wagner Specialists Up For Sale

JP Morgan Chase has put New York Stock Exchange-designated market maker Bear Wagner Specialists up for sale, CNBC has learned.

JP Morgan inherited Bear Wagner when it acquired Bear Stearns last year, but considers Bear Wagner a non-core asset, according to a source familiar with the situation. The bank has been shopping the firm for the last month and a half, this source said.

Barclays Capital has done a handshake deal with JPMorgan that would have Barclays paying $35 million for the unit, a source told CNBC.

The deal would expand Barclays’ current operations as a designated market maker on the floor of the NYSE. Barclays acquired those operations last September as part of the broker-dealer operations of failed Lehman Brothers.

Still, some familiar with the situation caution the proposed combination is still fluid and no deal has been finalized.

JP Morgan and Barclays declined comment to CNBC.

Sources close to two other firms confirm they too looked at Bear Wagner, but did not submit formal bids.

Once source says Knight Trading, which recently became a supplemental liquidity provider for the NYSE, would look at Bear Wagner again should the reported deal with Barclays fall apart.

Another source tells CNBC that Goldman Sachs looked at Bear Wagner, and if the price had been right, the company would have made an official bid. Goldman also may be interested if the Barclay’s deal falls apart. Goldman Sachs owns fellow NYSE designated market maker Spear, Leeds & Kellogg Specialists.

Officials at both Knight Trading and Goldman Sachs declined to comment on the Bear Wagner situation.

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