Bear Stearns Veteran Greenberg to Stay with JPMorgan


Former Bear Stearns chief executive Alan "Ace" Greenberg, the legendary trader who helped build Bear into one of the world's largest investment banks, told Reuters on Thursday he intends to stay at JPMorgan Chase after the two banks merge.

"I expect to stay at JPMorgan ," said Greenberg, who joined the firm in 1949.

As to what role he'll play at the combined company, the 80-year-old executive said he expects to learn more during a lunch meeting with JPMorgan executives Thursday.

Greenberg, who served as CEO at Bear Stearns from 1978 through 1993, declined further comment.

Over the decades, Greenberg has held almost every senior job at Bear and formed relationships with the likes of Warren Buffett and Donald Trump. Greenberg gained some measure of fame playing himself on Trump's television show "The Apprentice.''

Greenberg converted Bear from a private partnership into a public company in 1985 and helped the bank weather numerous market storms. Greenberg turned over the CEO reins to James ''Jimmy'' Cayne in 1993 and has worked as chairman of the executive committee since 2001.

Greenberg, one of the best known faces at Bear, sits on the bank's board and still reports to the trading floor, where he manages accounts for himself and some long-time clients. He is also known as an expert bridge player and amateur magician.

But now the old firm is going away as Bear ends 85 years as an independent company in June.

Weakened by the mortgage crisis, Bear was brought to the brink of collapse last month by an exodus of customers. The U.S. Federal Reserve urged a well-capitalized JPMorgan to acquire Bear, at a fire sale price, to keep the fifth-largest investment bank from going bankrupt.

Reached by Reuters just days before the collapse, Greenberg dismissed market talk about a cash crunch as "totally ridiculous.'' But by the end of that week, Bear was the recipient of a Fed bailout.

The deal comes at a heavy cost, as up to half of the firm's nearly 14,000 employees could lose their jobs. JPMorgan recently announced 26 business line executives for the combined bank, although only five came from Bear.

In coming weeks, Morgan is expected to reveal more management decisions and job cuts.

Earlier this week, sources told Reuters current Bear Stearns Chief Executive Alan Schwartz, forced to sell the bank in his 11th-week on the job, hoped to stay on as a senior deal maker and investment bank vice chairman. Formal talks, though, have yet to begin.