JPMorgan Chase & Co. agreed to buy Bear Stearns Cos. for $240 million, about 90 percent less than its value last week, after a run on the company ended 85 years of independence for Wall Street's fifth-largest securities firm. Shareholders of Bear Stearns will get stock in JPMorgan equivalent to about $2 a share, compared with $30 at the close on March 14. Mind you, share price was $158.59 last April! JPMorgan Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon bought Bear Stearns, once the biggest underwriter of U.S. mortgage bonds, for less than the value of its real estate after clients, alarmed by speculation about a cash shortage, withdrew $17 billion in two days. Faced with the prospect of bankruptcy, Bear Stearns CEO Alan Schwartz was forced to accept the deal less than five days after he assured investors that the company's ``liquidity cushion'' was sufficient to weather credit-market losses.
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