Olive Branch Offered to Bear Stearns Workers?

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JPMorgan's chief executive reportedly has offered financial incentives to Bear Stearns employees who stay in their jobs after the banks combine.

Jamie Dimon met late Wednesday with "hundreds of Bear Stearns executives," Reuters reported. "At the meeting, Dimon proposed incentives to Bear Stearns employees retained by JPMorgan. Those employees who stay at the close of the deal would receive a bonus that will include JPMorgan shares," the news service reported, citing an unnamed source who was briefed on the meeting.

The story didn't estimate the value of the reported bonuses, either singly or in aggregate, nor did it indicate how many of Bear's people JPMorgan might opt to retain post-takeover. Previous media reports suggested that between one-third and one-half of Bear's 14,000 workers will be let go.

Neither company commented on the report, and Bear Stearns employees apparently remained skeptical about the pending takeover. JPMorgan agreed Sunday to acquire Bear Stearns for stock currently worth $2.41 per share - roughly 4 percent of Bear's market value a week ago - after the Federal Reserve guaranteed the value of $30 billion of the troubled firm's riskier assets. The deal brought a double dose of pain for Bear Stearns staff, undermining both their job security and personal ownership stakes in their employer. Bear employees own about 30 percent of the firm.

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