JPMorgan Chase buys crisis-hit Bear Stearns for a song

WASHINGTON, March 16, 2008 (AFP) – US banking titan JPMorgan Chase said late Sunday it was taking over the crisis-hit investment bank and brokerage Bear Stearns for around 236 million dollars. President George W. Bush last month signed a 168-billion-dollar economic stimulus and the government and banks have backed a number of initiatives to help homeowners faced with losing their homes amid tightening credit, job cuts and a slowing economy. JPMorgan Chase’s management said the takeover of Bear Stearns, which has seen its market value plummet due to vast losses related to mortgage-backed securities, had been approved by the boards of directors of both banks.

Under its terms, hatched by both banks’ top executives this weekend, JPMorgan Chase will pay just two dollars a share for Bear Stearns.

JPMorgan Chase said the Federal Reserve had already approved the takeover, underlining that government officials want the takeover consummated as quickly as possible.

Bear Stearns rapid demise has been reflected in its tumbling share price in recent months. It shares closed down a hefty 47 percent at 30 dollars on Friday.

Bankers at JPMorgan Chase re-valued its shares dramatically lower o