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Jamie Dimon brushes aside questions over JPMorgan chairmanship

April 12, 2013|By Andrew Tangel
  • JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon, shown testifying on Capitol Hill in June 2012, could be pushed out of his dual role.
JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon, shown testifying on Capitol… (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated…)

By next month, JPMorgan Chase & Co. will know whether shareholders want to strip the bank's star chief executive of his chairmanship.

If a majority supports splitting the roles, what will Jamie Dimon do? 

Dimon, who holds both jobs, declined to say in a conference call with reporters early Friday. It was an issue for JPMorgan's board, he said.

"You should always listen to your shareholders,” Dimon said. "The board has plenty of time to think it through."

Some major shareholders have been calling for splitting the roles, saying it is a "best practice" for corporate governance. Fueling the push has been the continuing firestorm over more than $6 billion in trading losses JPMorgan incurred due to risky, wrong-way bets by a trader nicknamed the "London Whale."

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A nonbinding measure calling for splitting JPMorgan's CEO and chairman jobs is up for a vote ahead of JPMorgan's May 21 shareholder meeting.

Charles Peabody, an analyst with Portales Partners, wondered if splitting the roles at JPMorgan would lead to Dimon's departure -- and whether that might ultimately be worse for shareholders.

"If the board is forced by a shareholder vote to strip Jamie Dimon of his chairman’s role, then shareholders may find that Jamie Dimon decides to move on, maybe not immediately but within the year," Peabody wrote in a note earlier this month. "If that were to occur, is there someone with Mr. Dimon’s talents capable of stepping into the breach?"

The AFSCME Employees Pension Plan proposed the JPMorgan shareholder measure. New York City Comptroller John Liu, whose office oversees the city's pension funds, and Connecticut Treasurer Denise Nappier, who manages that state's pension funds, have joined the campaign.

Two major California pensions -- the California Public Employees' Retirement System and the California State Teachers' Retirement System -- voted to support splitting JPMorgan’s CEO and chairman jobs last year.

The bank's board has already thrown its support behind Dimon. In a recent securities filing, the board said it “strongly endorses” keeping Dimon in both jobs, citing the firm’s “strong performance” under his leadership.

JPMorgan on Friday reported a record $6.5-billion profit in the first quarter, up 33% from $4.9 billion in the same period last year.

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