James Cayne, the chairman and CEO of Bear Stearns -- once a major player in the subprime mortgage market -- is expected to relinquish his chief executive title. As of MortgageWire's deadline, a spokesman for Bear had not returned a telephone call about the matter. A few weeks ago, Bear laid off all remaining account executives who once worked in the Irvine, Calif., office of Encore Credit Corp., a subprime wholesaler that it had merged into its mortgage group. Among those let go was Shabi Asghar, who served as president of ECC. Mr. Cayne, according to combined news reports, is expected to remain as chairman. In years past Bear has been a top-ranked securitizer of subprime loans and, like many investment banking firms, has taken large writedowns on its holdings. This past summer, two subprime-related hedge funds managed by Bear filed for bankruptcy protection. Bear Stearns can be found online at http://www.bearstearns.com.

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