Bear Stearns is consigned to history in 10 minutes

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The Independent Online

One of Wall Street's most famous names, with a history stretching back 85 years, was extinguished in a 10 minute meeting yesterday morning, as Bear Stearns shareholders voted to accept its cut-price takeover by JPMorgan Chase.

Inside the Manhattan headquarters of what had been the fifth largest investment bank on Wall Street, Bear Stearns' chairman, Jimmy Cayne, said he was "personally sorry" for the collapse of the company.

And outside, employees and passers-by were invited by a local artist to graffiti a portrait of Mr Cayne, which was being auctioned on eBay yesterday – the last piece of memorabilia from a firm whose name will forever be associated with the credit crisis that destroyed it.

A crisis of confidence among Bear's trading partners brought down the group in mid-March, and the Federal Reserve – concerned that its collapse would trigger a full-blown banking crisis – stepped in during a fraught weekend of negotiations to engineer a takeover.

JP Morgan had agreed to pay $2 (£1) a share for a company whose stock had been trading at $150 a year ago, and eventually raised the bid to $10 to placate furious Bear shareholders. Mr Cayne said that the company ran into a financial "hurricane" that it did not expect.

Only 6,000 of Bear's 14,000 employees are being offered jobs at JPMorgan, which will now move its investment banking business into Bear's glitzy Midtown Manhattan building.

Outside the building, artist Geoffrey Raymond asked passers-by and meeting attendees to add comments to his 5ft by 4ft portrait of Mr Cayne, who became the focus of shareholder anger because of reports he was playing golf or bridge during key moments of the crisis. Comments included "Hubris, thy name is Jimmy" and "Dear Jim – up yours".