Bear Stearns' Wild-Card Shareholder

How did Joe Lewis wind up with an outsize share of Wall Street's problem child, and what will his next move be?

Joseph Lewis' big bet on Bear Stearns (BSC) is looking like a big mistake. Since the billionaire investor came on board last September, upping his stake three months later, the stock has been in a death spiral. The latest hit: a nearly 7% plunge following the expected news on Jan. 8 that James Cayne would step down as chief executive of the beleaguered investment bank. In all, Lewis, the single largest shareholder in Bear, has watched the value of his 10% stake erode from $1.2 billion to $840 million.

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