It has been almost 5 months since the epic Bear Stearns failure and subsequent Fed bailout, but new details are still emerging. Such as Jimmy Cayne’s secret brush with death late last year, when he was CEO of the company. (Reuters):
In Cayne’s first interview since Bear was forced into a fire-sale takeover by JPMorgan Chase (JPM), he told Fortune he woke up on September 11 drowsy, weak and with dangerously low blood pressure. He rushed to a Manhattan hospital with sepsis so severe that doctors gave him a 50-50 chance of survival.
Though he remained in the hospital for 10 days and lost 30 pounds, Cayne and Bear never notified the public. He took a car service instead of calling for an ambulance to ensure his hospital visit didn’t become public, Fortune said.
Translation: We–Bear Stearns and Cayne–thought the markets might panic if they learned Bear’s CEO was about to die, so we hid it from them. Not exactly the spirit of full and fair disclosure.
For the first time, though, Cayne does take some responsibility for Bear’s collapse (some), and–in these selected quotes, anyway–doesn’t blame it on an act of God:
“When you become roadkill, when you happen to have lost some weight and you’re not really healthy, but you know one thing — you know that you have worked your arse off and you’re not smart enough to know the answer — that’s tough,” he said….
“I didn’t stop it,” Cayne acknowledged, speaking of his role in the firm’s demise. “I didn’t rein in the leverage.”
And how does it feel to help blow an 85-year-old firm to smithereens and lose $1 billion in the process?
“I felt nothing,” he said of the sale that cost him $1 billion, leaving his net worth at about $600 million. “You got a bad grade on your test. That’s it. No appeal. I felt sad for me and sad for my Bear Stearns family.”
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