Quoting Cayne

by Derek Loosvelt | May 30, 2008

Yesterday, outside Bear Stearns headquarters, as the firm's shareholders approved the sale to JPMorgan, vendors sold t-shirts and bystanders held signs with slogans such as "You screwed us Jimmy," "Hubris—thy name is Jimmy" and "I worked for Bear Stearns 20 years and all I got was a Cayne-ing."

During the brief shareholder meeting, Bear Chairman Jimmy Cayne did "personally apologize" for the death of Bear. But did he really mean it?

Recently, Cayne has made several other questionable remarks, plus some candid ones. Below are a few of these, said during the last year in the life of Bear Stearns.

"Internationally, we continue to grow aggressively, hiring talented people, broadening our product platform and reaching new clients in multiple geographies." - June '07, speaking in a company statement after Bear experienced its first quarterly drop in two years

"I'm inclined to remain independent." - August '07, talking in a conference with Wall Street analysts to quell rumors that Bear was experiencing a liquidity crisis that compromised its staying in business

"Tell the people who say I'm going that in 2018 I'll be calling it a day." - August '07, talking in the same conference call responding to rumors that he might soon step down as CEO

"I have every confidence in this team to continue Bear Stearns' 84-year legacy of success and profitable growth." - August '07, after Bear co-President Warren Spector was let go following two of the firm's hedge funds crashing and burning

"There is no chance that it happened. Zero chance." - October '07, responding to a Wall Street Journal story that said he had sparked up a funny cigarette in a hotel bathroom after a bridge tournament with a fellow competitor and an unnamed woman (the Journal alleged that while Bear Stearns was experiencing its worst crisis in its existence, Cayne was unconcerned, still playing several rounds of golf, competing in bridge tournaments and taking long weekends)

"We are obviously upset with our 2007 results, particularly in light of the fact that weakness in fixed income more than offset strong and, in some areas, record-setting performance in other businesses." - December '07, speaking in a company statement about recent Bear operating results

"A body blow of massive proportions" - January '08, in an interview with The New York Times, referring to the $1.9 billion in subprime-related charges Bear took in 2007 along with its first quarterly loss ever, experienced during the 2007 fourth quarter

"We have been through some challenging times in the past few months, but I am confident the difficulties are temporary." - January '08, in a memo to Bear staff upon his resignation as CEO

No comment - March '08, (not) speaking about why he sold all of his 5.66 million shares in Bear at $10.84 each for a total of $61.3 million, after JPMorgan raised its offer for Bear from $2 per share to $10

"That which does not kill us makes us stronger." - May '08, speaking about the future of Bear's employees and shareholders in his last moments as Bear Stearns chairman (quoting German philosopher and iconoclast Fred Nietzsche)

"We ran into a hurricane." - May '08, speaking about what caused Bear's ultimate demise

Filed Under: Finance


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