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Banking

Asia round up: No bull about China’s Bear

More than a few doubts have been raised about the rumoured plans of state lender China Construction Bank to buy a major stake in US investment bank Bear Stearns. However, sources in the firm’s Asian head office believe the plans are serious. “I haven’t seen a lot of guys with white socks walking around the office yet,” says a senior employee, “but there’s definitely truth to the rumour. It’s typical Bear strategy: late to the party, perhaps, but a smart call.”

Courting a major investment from a Chinese lender rather than investing in a Chinese bank means that Bear Stearns can reap similar rewards with much less of the risk, argues the source. “Everyone’s paying up to invest in China,” he says. “So why not get someone to pay a huge sum for you? If it happens, it’s only positive for us. Any Chinese bank investing in us is going to open all the doors it can in China to keep our stock price up. Compare that with their attitude towards some US investment bank that’s bought a small stake in them: what do they care?”

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