Bear Stearns Brings In a Ringer

Jeff Lane will lead the firm's asset-management business.
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Bear Stearns

(BSC)

has decided to call on Wall Street veteran Jeff Lane to help the firm recover from its lately sullied image.

A former Travelers Group and

Lehman Brothers

(LEH)

executive, Lane has been tapped to head up Bear's asset-management business.

He'll replace Richard Marin, who will stay on at Bear as an adviser.

"I am proud to be joining Bear Stearns, and I look forward to working with the entire BSAM team," Lane said in a prepared statement. "I believe in the integrity of the franchise, and I am excited about the prospect of continuing to build the BSAM organization."

A call to a Bear Stearns spokesman wasn't returned.

Lane's hiring comes as Bear has been under fire from the stumblings of a pair of highly leveraged hedge funds, including its High-Grade Structured Credit Strategies Fund. For that fund, Bear has set up a $1.6 billion bailout package, down from a proposed $3.2 billion originally, to stave off big losses and return money to investors.

"You had to see it coming," says Chicago Asset Management portfolio manager Peter Goldman, who owns shares of Bear Stearns, of Marin being ousted. "There's no surprise here."

Another hedge fund, High-Grade Structured Credit Strategies Enhanced Leveraged Fund, is also under water, but Bear has no plans to lend a hand to that investment vehicle. Both funds are managed by Ralph Cioffi.

Both funds have been on the brink of collapse because of bad bets on mortgage securities, which has the broader market worried that troubles in mortgages provided to borrowers with shaky credit might spill over into other areas of Wall Street.

Hiring Lane suggests that Bear is putting a heavy emphasis on trying to recover face after being hit by the subprime slime and from serving as the focus of attention for the past two weeks.

The firm earlier this week said that Thomas Marano, global head of mortgages and asset-backed securities, would help manage its hedge-fund woes. Michael Winchell, a former risk officer at Bear, also has been hired to help unwind some assets within the funds, according to a

Bloomberg

report.

Lane's career includes a stint at Neuberger Berman before it was sold to Lehman. He also has been vice chairman of

Citigroup's

(C) - Get Report

Smith Barney unit, responsible for asset management, mutual funds, international operations, futures and commodities.

Shares of New York-based Bear Stearns, the second-biggest originator of mortgage loans, were down about a 1% Friday at $142.51.