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Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times reporter Sharon Chan.

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March 17, 2008 12:10 PM

Does Bear meltdown impact CEO Schwartz' reported role as Microsoft adviser?

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Bear Stearns CEO Schwartz.

Remember about two weeks ago when The Wall Street Journal reported that Bear Stearns CEO Alan Schwartz was brought on to advise Microsoft in its bid for Yahoo?

(If not, review this story, 11th paragraph, and keep in mind that the source of this info is anonymous.)

Might Bear Stearns' meltdown and fire sale to JPMorgan Chase have any impact on his behind-the-scenes role in the Microsoft-Yahoo bid? More to the point, does Schwartz' credibility suffer in light of his bank's assurances that all was well at Bear four days before its brink-of-bankruptcy sale?

Here's why that question could be important:

When Schwartz' role in Microsoft-Yahoo was reported, Tech Confidential, a blog at The Deal, noted that Schwartz wasn't brought on to run the numbers on the Yahoo bid. Microsoft has plenty of top investment bankers for that. Rather it is his status as a "rainmaker" -- one of only a few "bankers with the reputation and game to operate at the very highest levels of the profession" that likely sent Microsoft in search of his services. (Emphasis added.)

"Schwartz can serve Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer as consigliere on the deal. The banker will be versed in the subtle machinations behind any major merger. He also might function as a go-between among advisers and shareholders involved in the transaction," Tech Confidential wrote.

Given that Schwartz, if he's still involved, is likely working way behind the scenes, it would be difficult to determine what impact the implosion of his bank would have on his role advising Microsoft. Maybe he now finds himself with some extra time on his hands...

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