China Citic Bank Wants A Share in Bear Stearns (BSC)

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Chinese officials confirmed and several media outlets reported that China’s Citic Bank would like to buy a piece of Bear Stearns (BSC). Members of Congress will likely mount their soap boxes and rail against Chinese investment in US companies. But, Bear Stearns probably houses very few major US economic or government secrets. It is not as if a Chinese bank wanted to buy a piece of NASA.

Bear Stearns likes to say that it does not need the cash. The company’s shares are still down over 25% this year, and the firm does not have the capital to mount any real competition with Goldman Sachs (GS) or Morgan Stanley (MS) in many global market segments.

Other institutions are rumored to be interested in a piece of BSC. Bank of America (BAC) perhaps, or another large US financial company.

But, the Chinese have two advantages in the bidding. They may be willing to overpay to get into the US investment banking market. It could be argued that they did make a too aggressive bid to get a piece of Blackstone (BX). And, the Chinese have the capital. As long as their markets keep moving up 200% a year, their access to pots of the green stuff seems never ending.

Bear Steans on the Yangtze. It has a nice ring.

Douglas A. McIntyre