Bear Stearns Investors Settle Claims for $275 Million

Nader Nazemi

A group of Bear Stearns shareholders who claimed to have been hurt by the investment bank’s deteriorating health agreed on Wednesday to settle its claims for $275 million, four years after the firm was sold to JPMorgan Chase.

The proposed settlement would cover investors who owned shares in the firm from Dec. 14, 2006, to March 14, 2008, according to a document filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan.

The pact, which still needs court approval, would end years of litigation between Bear Stearns, former executives of the bank and investors led by representatives of Michigan’s state pension funds.

It was a lingering reminder of the collapse of the investment bank, which was rescued only through a government-brokered fire sale to JPMorgan in March 2008.

The former executives named in the suit include James E. Cayne, Bear Stearns’ longtime chief executive; Alan D. Schwartz, his successor and the leader who sold the firm to JPMorgan; and Alan C. Greenberg, the investment bank’s longtime chairman.

The plaintiff contended that management had masked the firm’s failing health over its last year and a half of existence. That period encompasses the collapse of two internal hedge funds because of crumbling mortgage investments, now widely seen as one of the first major manifestations of the financial crisis.

Under the terms of the settlement, the Bear Stearns defendants continue to deny any wrongdoing. At the same time, while the Michigan fund system argued it had a solid case, “it recognizes that there are significant obstacles in the way to recovery.”



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