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Lehman Bros. May Be Pondering Bid for Rival

November 09, 2000|Reuters

Lehman Bros. Holdings (ticker symbol LEH) is believed to be considering a bid for rival investment bank Bear Stearns (BSC), although there is only a slim chance it will make an offer, the Financial Times said on its Web site Wednesday.

Lehman is one of the few remaining standalone securities firms on Wall Street and a long-rumored merger partner, while Bear Stearns has been viewed as being open to a takeover after remaining on the sidelines during a period of rampant consolidation in the U.S. financial-services industry.

The Financial Times story, which was unsourced, said Lehman's interest in Bear Stearns illustrates its desire to remain independent. Lehman officials were not immediately available for comment. Bear Stearns declined to comment.

U.S. banks and brokers are under pressure to merge and get bigger, fueling merger speculation, after a spate of large deals in recent months. Swiss bank UBS snapped up No. 4 U.S. brokerage PaineWebber Group, while Credit Suisse Group announced plans to buy another Wall Street broker, Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette.

Lehman's stock closed at $57.75 Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange, down $3.81, while Bear Stearns ended down $2.75 at $56.81. In July, Bear Stearns Chief Executive James Cayne told an analyst he was willing to sell the firm if the price was right--as much as $120 a share.

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