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Bear/Hunter, an exchange floor trading firm partially owned by Bear Stearns (BSC) , is close to acquiring the American Stock Exchange specialist business of GHM, say people familiar with the deal.

Three people close to the Amex floor said GHM has entertained a handful of offers for its business for roughly eight months and was seeking roughly $25 million. Bear/Hunter recently agreed to acquire

Wagner Stott Mercator

, a

New York Stock Exchange

specialist firm, a deal that will make it one of Wall Street's largest trading firms. Specialist firms and market makers are responsible for committing their capital to maintain orderly markets for certain stocks and options.

A Bear Stearns spokeswoman said she had no knowledge of an acquisition. Calls to Mulheren weren't returned, and a GHM executive declined to comment.

GHM's position as an equity and options market maker places it among the more important trading firms at the American Stock Exchange. It's the equity specialist on several subsidiaries of


and biotech firms



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