Bear's Biggest Losers

03/28/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

British billionaire Joseph Lewis made his fortune gambling on currencies. His recent investment in Bear Stearns Cos. has turned out to be a disastrous bet.

The elusive septuagenarian is one the biggest losers from the New York investment bank's problems. In just a few months, he has paper losses of about $800 million on his roughly 9.6% stake in Bear, whose share price has cratered in recent days.

A small cadre of investors, often considered some of the best in the business, own big stakes in Bear that aren't looking good. A number of these shareholders are the type of investors who ordinarily would take a hard line in a sale, demanding a higher price. But with Bear on the brink, they may have little choice.

Among the stakeholders: James Barrow, a Dallas money manager who runs the firm Barrow, Hanley, Mewhinney & Strauss Inc., is the single biggest investor, with a 9.95% stake, according to recent regulatory filings. Bear Stearns Chairman James Cayne, who stepped down as chief executive in January amid criticisms by some investors that he was too hands-off when the mortgage mess unfolded, holds a stake just under 5%. So does activist investor Bruce Sherman, the CEO of Naples, Fla., money-manager Private Capital Management Inc., a unit of Legg Mason Inc., recent regulatory filings show.

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