BEIJING — China Citic Group, the overseas investment arm of the Chinese cabinet, may buy a stake in Bear Stearns Cos., the U.S. securities firm hit the hardest by the collapse of the subprime mortgage market. Citic Group President Chang Zhenming said his company is interested in Bear Stearns, confirming comments by Jiang Dingzhi, vice chairman of China’s banking regulator, at the Communist Party congress in Beijing today. Chang wasn’t more specific.
An investment in Bear Stearns, a Wall Street institution that survived the 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression, would underscore the growing ambitions of China’s financial companies. Bear Stearns’s market value has declined 26 percent this year to US$17.4 billion on U.S. mortgage-related losses. The New York-based firm is worth less than half as much as Citic Group’s brokerage affiliate, Citic Securities Co.