Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc. will cut 310 jobs in the process of combining its mortgage origination lending businesses, Bear Stearns Residential Mortgage and Encore Credit, into a single unit, the company said Wednesday.

Bear Stearns completed its acquisition of Encore in February and brought 660 workers on board in a $26 million deal in which the purchase price was credited against debts the subprime lender owed Bear Stearns.

Jeff Walton, current head of Bear Res, has been appointed chief executive officer of the new unit, to be called Bear Stearns Residential Mortgage Corp. Shabi Asghar, former head of Encore Credit, has been named president.

In a press release, Bear Stearns said it had cut its mortgage origination workforce by 40 percent this year, but will soon be expanding its loan products to include Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA loans.

According to outplacement consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., mortgage lenders announced nearly 70,000 layoffs in the first three quarters of 2007.

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