) --

MF Global


is hiring investment bankers to explore a possible sale and other "strategic options" the

Wall Street Journal

reported Wednesday, possibly bringing a turnaround plan envisioned run by former New Jersey Governor and

Goldman Sachs

(GS) - Get Report

chief Jon Corzine to a harrowing end.

Shares of the broker-dealer plummeted by almost 50% Tuesday following its report of an unexpected second-quarter loss. The poor results came on top of worries that its debt might get downgraded to junk status.

On Wednesday, news that it might put itself up for sale were doing nothing to arrest the decline in the stock. Shares were plunging another 36% to $1.19 in mid-morning trades.

The board voted on the decision to explore strategic options Wednesday morning, according to the report, and has hired Evercore Partners and at least one other bank.

MF Global CEO Jon Corzine

MF Global said Tuesday that it reduced overall market exposure through principal trading activities amid higher volatility in equity and fixed income markets, resulting in a 73% drop in revenue from principal trading activities. The net loss attributable to common shareholders was $191.6 million, or $1.16 a share, compared with a loss of $94.3 million or 59 cents a share, a year ago.

On an adjusted basis, the company reported a loss of 9 cents a share. Analysts were, however, expecting the firm to report a profit of 5 cents per share, according to

Thomson Reuters.

MF Global advanced the announcement of its earnings report to Tuesday after

Moody's Investor Services

(MCO) - Get Report

downgraded its long-term debt by one notch to Baa3, just a notch above junk status late Monday. The rating agency said it might consider a further cut to non-investment grade, citing concerns on the firm's exposure to European sovereign debt and the firm's increased risk appetite.

As of September 30, the firm had a $6.3 billion exposure to European peripherals- Greece, Italy, Ireland, Portugal and Spain. FINRA recently told the firm to inject additional capital on concerns of its exposure to Europe.

Corzine took over the reins at MF Global in March 2010 and had envisioned a plan that looked to convert the firm, which has its roots in commodities trading, into a mini Goldman Sachs.

Investors have been betting that he would turn the company around, although there have been occasional worries that the CEO would depart the firm for a role in the government. Earlier this year, MF Global raised $300 million in debt with an extra provision that said that investors will earn an additional one percentage point in interest if Corzine leaves the firm.

--Written by Shanthi Bharatwaj in New York

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