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Bear Chief’s Golf Outings Draw Mixed Reviews


Date: Monday, July 9, 2007
Author: NYTimes.com

On Sunday, The New York Times published an item in its “Suits” column observing that, as two hedge funds managed by Bear Stearns were sinking last month in what has become commonly referred to as a “crisis,” Bear Stearns chief executive James E. Cayne was playing multiple rounds of golf. A previous article in The Times reported that Richard Marin, the head of the Bear unit that ran the troubled funds, stole away from what he called a “crisis-hedge-fund-salvation-workaholic weekend” to see a movie.

The pair of reports have sparked a debate: Should these diversions be considered natural reactions to a stressful situation — or embarrassing examples of Wall Street executives missing in action?

Dealbreaker.com has collected thoughts from various bloggers, both pro and con, concerning Mr. Cayne’s golf outings.

“Brad Bissonnette at BloggingStocks has already sounded the expectedly annoyed note,” Dealbreaker said, citing this passage from Mr. Bissonnette writing:

Immersing yourself in a hobby, such as gardening or golf, can often be an excellent way to relieve stress and work-related anxiety. But if you’re a shareholder of Bear Stearns who has just witnessed the collapse of a hedge fund requiring that the company put up $1.6 billion to bail it out, you might prefer that the C.E.O. would spend some extra time at the office.

But some people took the opposite view. “I’m rooting for Cayne here,” John Caddell wrote on his blog. “Maybe he’s more than a big-shot prima donna who lands his helicopter on the practice range. Maybe he’s figured out a way to get some balance in his life.”

Asked about Mr. Cayne’s golf trips, a Bear Stearns spokeswoman told The Times that he regularly plays an evening round after work on Thursdays and again on Fridays, when he works from his New Jersey home and is in constant touch with the office.