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Dimon: Goodbye to 55% of Bear Staff

NEW YORK (Reuters) – More than 7,600 Bear Stearns Cos' (BSC.N: Quote, Profile, Research) employees, about 55 percent of its staff, are expected to lose their jobs as the troubled investment bank is absorbed into JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N: Quote, Profile, Research), JPMorgan Chief Executive James Dimon said Tuesday.

While discussing the historic $1.5 billion Bear Stearns takeover during Morgan's annual shareholder meeting, Dimon said “we're retaining 45 percent of Bear Stearns staff.”

Dimon's remarks confirmed months of speculation that half of Bear's employees would lose their jobs as a result of the merger. JPMorgan for weeks played down the speculation as premature.

But last week Dimon told a bank investor conference that about 6,000 Bear employees had received job offers, or about 40 percent of the roughly 10,000 employees whose fates have decided so far. Bear had 13,834 employees as of Feb 29.

Based on Dimon's figures, a total of about 6,300 offers will be extended to Bear employees when the review and integration process is completed. They also indicate only 200 to 300 employees of those still under review will get offers.

JPMorgan officials declined immediate comment.

The acquisition, though expected to generate a $1 billion second quarter gain for JPMorgan, is a “very risky and tough proposition,” Dimon said. “That's why we say 'Mission: Not accomplished.' Judge us in a year or two.”

The fire-sale transaction, pushed through by the Federal Reserve on March 17 to head off a Bear bankruptcy, is to be completed around June 1. 

Last week, Dimon said Morgan had identified jobs for about 1,500 Bear employees at other companies through a placement network it created.

(Reporting by Joseph A. Giannone; Editing by Derek Caney)