JPMorgan Offers Bear Stearn’s Best Brokers Incentives To Stay

JPMorgan Chase & Company is offering bonuses to the top brokers at Bear Stearns Cos. to get them to stay with the company after it is acquired, JPMorgan said Tuesday. The packages, which would go into effect when JPMorgan’s buyout is completed, are aimed at keeping Bear Stearns’ best-performing brokers from leaving for another investment bank. JPMorgan on Monday increased its offer for Bear Stearns from US$2 per share to US$10 per share.

“It’s been a challenging time for their brokers, and we want to make sure they know our desire to continue with the business,” said Jes Staley, chief executive of JPMorgan’s Asset Management Group.

 Bear Stearns employees have seen most of their stockholdings get wiped out after JPMorgan this month offered to buy the struggling investment bank for a small fraction of what it was valued at a few weeks ago.

The package offers are a gesture to tell the brokers to ‘hold tight’,” Staley said. “Our hope is to keep all the talented Bear brokers who are there.” Staley would not confirm how much the bonuses were worth.

Top performers only

But a person close to the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the private nature of the negotiations, said that cash-and-stock bonuses of as much as 100 per cent of annual output have been offered to top-performing Bear Stearns brokers.

The top performers are defined as those who earned at least US$500,000 in commissions and fees over the past year.

Brokers earning US$250,000 to US$500,000 in commissions and fees will receive half their annual production, the person confirmed. And advisers will get an additional bonus based on the average annual rise in their production in the next three years.

Brokers producing less than US$250,000 have not been offered a retention package.

On Monday, JPMorgan tried to appease disgruntled Bear Stearns employees by raising its buyout price fivefold. Bear Stearns employees – who collectively own about one-third of the embattled investment bank – have a great deal of their wealth tied up in Bear Stearns stock, which was worth nearly US$80 a share earlier this month.

JPMorgan does not appear concerned about the deal falling through at this point due to shareholder backlash. JPMorgan now has a 39.5 per cent stake in the company, and Bear Stearns board members – who have pledged to vote in favour of the deal – together have a nearly 10 per cent stake.

{Taken from the Jamaica Gleaner}

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