Jimmy Cayne Sells Out

Cayne

Photo Illustration: Corbis (Cayne),
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(Hat), iStockphoto (Spliff)

For a moment last week, it seemed like Jimmy Cayne, the chairman of Bear Stearns who was CEO for nine years before resigning in the wake of poor performance this past January, might rally to save the firm where he'd spent most of his working life. When liquidity problems caused Bear to agree to sell itself in a fire sale to JPMorgan, Cayne flew to the office from a bridge tournament in Detroit to be there during the Sunday-night negotiations. He spent the next week striding around Bear's Madison Avenue office with an armed bodyguard, muttering about how he and Joe Lewis would find other investors and another way to bring the firm back from the brink, and his absence during prior crises — the bridge tournaments, golf, and pot — all faded into the background. Jimmy Cayne cares about this bank, Goddamn it, and he wasn't about to allow its name to be sullied by selling it to that whippersnapper Jamie Dimon for two-bits. This lasted for exactly one week. Then yesterday he crumpled and sold his remaining 5.7 million shares for $10.84 each, or $61.3 million. "Compensation experts and associates of the Bear Stearns chairman say his stock sale probably has more to do with personal economics than with protesting the deal," The Wall Street Journal says. He did just buy a $26 million apartment in the Plaza. And let's face it: Principles are nice and all, but a man's gotta keep up his lifestyle.

Toward the Exit: Cayne Sells Big Stake in Bear [WSJ]