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Joseph Lewis

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Who Is Bear Stearns' Biggest Loser?

FINANCE • Joseph Lewis, the British billionaire who built up his stake in Bear Stearns last summer, lost about $1.6 billion this past weekend, approximately half of his entire fortune. Bear's biggest investor, Dallas-based money manager James Barrow, whose firm had a 9.95 percent stake, also lost big — at least $750 million. Activist shareholder Bruce Sherman and departed CEO James Cayne each lost big on their 5 percent stakes, although Cayne might not care so much: He just closed on a $28.24 million Plaza pad and spent late last week playing bridge in a tournament in Detroit. [Bloomberg] • Meanwhile, Bear's "fire sale" is spreading like wildfire down the street, singing Lehman Brothers, among other top banks. [DealBook/NYT] • And Barry Diller's IAC is "sputtering." [NYT]

Joseph Lewis Doesn't Play Bridge

FINANCE • Henry Kravis failed to come to terms with top banks on financing for his all-important $26 billion buyout of First Data, the first in over $300 billion worth of LBOs that the banks need to get off their books. Negotiations will be pushed back another week, but it's not looking good. [DealBook/NYT] • The new rumor on the Street is that Joseph Lewis, the billionaire British currency speculator, bought into Bear Stearns on the advice of longtime Bear broker Kurt Butenhoff. The previous rumor, that Lewis got the idea from CEO Jimmy Cayne while playing bridge, seems unlikely since Lewis doesn't even play bridge. [CNBC] • Thanks to their friends at NASA, the CEOs of Google can park their three private jets — including a huge Boeing 767 — just seven minutes away from the tech-giants headquarters. Something tells us no Manhattan CEO's helicopter perks will beat that. [NYT]

Cheat Sheet: Joseph C. Lewis

A Mystery
Last night, reclusive British billionaire Joseph C. Lewis disclosed his acquisition of a 7 percent stake in Bear Stearns in an SEC filing. Turns out, over the past several months, the 70-year-old currency trader (known in currency-trading circles as "the Boxer") used a string of holding companies registered in the Bahamas to quietly acquire $860.4 million worth of shares, surpassing company's beleaguered CEO, Jimmy Cayne, to become the company's largest shareholder. But other than being Cayne's new daddy, who is Joseph C. Lewis? After the jump, a cheat sheet, to be read in the voice of Robin Leach.