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Bear Steans Sending “Redundancy” Letters

LONDON (Reuters) – Bear Stearns Cos Inc staff have started receiving letters telling them whether they will keep their jobs, as JPMorgan Chase & Co works through a takeover of its rival U.S. bank.

One Bear employee who works in the emerging markets business in London has received confirmation he will be laid off, he told Reuters on Wednesday. Another in the same department said he was expecting to hear later in the day that he would be retained.

“Some individuals and some businesses are beginning to hear what their status is,” added a source close to the bank.

A third London-based staffer who does not work on a trading desk, but on the business side said: “I'm waiting for my letter from JPMorgan to see about a job offer. I've been told verbally there is a job for me, which is a great relief.”

Bear Stearns said it was too early to comment on how many jobs or which business units would be affected by the cuts as this was still being decided.

JPMorgan declined to comment.

People inside Bear say they expect more than half of the bank's 14,000 staff will be let go following the merger.

JPMorgan made an emergency offer for the bank on March 16, prompted by Bear's exposure to markets hard hit by the credit crunch and investors' concerns it did not have enough capital to weather the storm.

“It has been a pleasure to have worked at Bear — an awesome place, with incredible individuals, great team spirit,” the laid-off employee wrote in an e-mail to his contacts, including Reuters, earlier this month after hearing informally that he would be dismissed. 

JPMorgan could complete its $10-a-share takeover of Bear within “hours” of Bear stockholders voting on the fire-sale offer on May 29, people familiar with the situation have said.

JPMorgan investment bank co-heads Steve Black and Bill Winters said Bear employees would know their fate by June 1, according to an internal memo on Monday.

(Reporting by Olesya Dmitracova and Carolyn Cohn in London and Daniel Bases in New York; Editing by David Hulmes)