Bear Stearns Employees to Learn Job Status Soon

Charlie Gasparino,|On-Air Editor

Bear Stearns front-office employees,  including bankers and traders, are expected to find out their employment status on or near April 15, CNBC has learned.

Back office employees are expected to be informed of their status about a week later.

Bear Stearns
Jin Lee

JP Morgan Chase , which acquired Bear Stearns last month when the Wall Street firm was on the brink of collapse, could end up cutting up to half of Bear's 14,000 employees, according to some unofficial estimates.

JP Morgan says there is no official number for job cuts right now, but the bank has set up an outplacement service to help Bear employees to find other jobs.

Bear Stearns employees already are flooding Wall Street with their resumes, though the job market looks bad, investment bankers and recruiters told Reuters.

Future of Wall St.'s Top Cop

On Friday, JPMorgan  announced its first top-level management jobs since the banks initially reached their agreement to merge on March 16. Of 26 executives named to executive positions in the investment banking and trading division, only five are from Bear Stearns .

Options Group, a financial recruitment and consulting firm, started getting resumes from Bear employees "the Sunday the $2 share offer was announced," said Michael Karp, its chief executive.

"We started seeing flow in Asia right away. All night we were seeing flow from Europe."

"All investment banks and commercial banks have interviewed people from the investment bank in Bear Stearns," he added.

Options Group is getting about 10 to 15 resumes a day globally even now from Bear Stearns employees, including investment bankers, he said.

JPMorgan by far is the bigger bank, with 180,000 employees worldwide, including 26,000 in investment banking and trading.

Bear Stearns, the fifth-largest investment bank before it nearly collapsed last month, has 14,000 in all. Job losses are expected at both.

One banker at a rival firm said resumes have been coming in from not just current Bear employees, but also business school graduates whose offers to join Bear had been rescinded.

The banker said most of the resumes he was getting were from junior to mid-level Bear Stearns bankers.

The investment banking businesses of the two companies overlap and Bear Stearns employees are preparing for the worst, said one Bear employee, who requested anonymity.

But these people face the tough task of finding jobs in a bad market. The global credit crunch and a slowing U.S. economy have led to tens of thousands of job cuts on Wall Street in recent months.

"They are coming into a market at a time when Wall Street doesn't offer much opportunity," said John Challenger, chief executive of employment consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

There may still be a few options for at least some of the bankers.

"Selectively we are seeing demand from hedge funds, where we are seeing people who are looking for private equity-type bankers to come in and help them grow their businesses," Options Group's Karp said. "Smaller investment banks and boutique banks are looking for people selectively."

JPMorgan plans to give employees from both companies who lose their jobs access to career placement services, a person briefed on the matter said.

"We are going to work with competitors -- which we have never done before -- private equity, hedge funds, asset managers and corporate clients -- of which we have some 13,000 -- to try to help them find jobs," the source said. "We hope that helps ease the pain a bit because nobody feels good about this."

--Reuters contributed to this report