Bloomberg News

NEW YORK--As many Wall Street Rivals have done for years, Bear Stearns Cos. is offering stock and options to more employees to keep them from going elsewhere.

Until now only managing directors and their superiors could receive restricted stock and options. Now about 2,000 associate directors and vice presidents will also receive such payments, according to a memo to the senior managing directors from president and chief executive office James Cayne.

"We were at a competitive disadvantage in retaining our current employees and also in recruiting new employees," Mr. Cayne wrote in the memo, issued Tuesday. "We now have incentive plans so that we can keep our best talent--you, your colleague and subordinates."

As part of the plan, Bear Stearns is initiating a "good leaver" policy under which employees who defect but do not try to lure their coworkers away from or compete against the firm will still be able to divest their shares.

Howard Gabler, president of the GZ Stephens Inc. recruiting firm, said Bear Stearns previous policies had left it vulnerable to poaching by competitors. "It's always easier to recruit somebody from a firm where people do no own vested stock," he said. "The recruiting firm doesn't have to deal with wealth being left on the table, since the stock typically vests over time, usually three years."

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