Report: JPMorgan Could Up Bear Offer

NEW YORK - JPMorgan Chase & Co. was discussing a deal that would increase fivefold its offer for Bear Stearns Cos. to $10 a share, The New York Times reported Monday.

The talks Sunday were an attempt to satisfy Bear Stearns stockholders upset over JPMorgan's offer of $2 a share for the struggling investment bank, the newspaper said on its Web site, citing people involved in the negotiations.

The original price for Bear Stearns was part of a deal struck last week at the urging of the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department.

The Fed, which would need to approve any change in the agreement, was balking at the new price, the Times said. Such opposition could postpone the new agreement or derail it entirely.

In an attempt to speed majority shareholder approval, Bears board was trying to authorize the sale of 39.5 percent of the firm to JPMorgan, the Times said. State law in Delaware, where the companies are incorporated, allows a company to sell up to 40 percent without shareholder approval.

A spokeswoman for JPMorgan declined to comment Sunday night, the Times said. A Bear Stearns representative could not be reached.

A spokesman for the Federal Reserve would not comment on the central banks involvement in the negotiations, but denied it had directed the original sale price, the newspaper said.

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