Bear Stearns, facing collapse because of the mortgage crisis, agreed Sunday evening to be bought by JPMorgan Chase for a bargain-basement price of less than $250 million, the two companies announced.
The all-stock deal values Bear Stearns at about $2 a share, based on JPMorgan's closing stock price on Friday, the companies said. In contrast, shares of Bear Stearns, which fell $27 on Friday, closed at $30.
A deal for Bear Stearns will end the independence of one of Wall Street's most storied firms and help halt a sweeping panic that set in at the end of last week, causing Bear Stearns's stock to swoon 47 percent on Friday.
JPMorgan said it was guaranteeing the trading obligations of Bear Stearns and its subsidiaries, effective immediately. "JPMorgan Chase stands behind Bear Stearns," Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan's chief executive, said in a statement. "Bear Stearns's clients and counterparties should feel secure that JPMorgan is guaranteeing Bear Stearns's counterparty risk."
The talks between the companies, which were overseen by the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department because of their potential effect on financial markets, were rushed in an effort to reach a deal before stock markets open in Asia at 8 p.m. Eastern time.