Dimon keeps JPMorgan chairman title after bruising battle

Tue May 21, 2013 6:31pm EDT
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By David Henry

TAMPA, Florida (Reuters) - Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase & Co's outspoken chairman and chief executive, won a vote of confidence on Tuesday as shareholders recommended that he keep his chairman title, giving him a greater margin of approval than last year.

Investors who had pressed for Dimon to be stripped of his chairman title said they believed they lost because of the chief executive's hints he would quit if he did not win the vote.

Just 32.2 percent of shareholder votes were in favor of a proposal to create an independent chairman, compared with 40.1 percent last year, the bank said at its annual meeting in Tampa, Florida. Dimon smiled as he left the meeting, and the bank's shares rose to their highest level since 2001.

The CEO could not claim total victory. Three JPMorgan directors were re-elected by an unusually slim majority. The three directors were on the board's risk management committee, which is widely seen as having fallen down after the bank lost $6.2 billion from risky derivatives bets last year known as the London Whale trades.

But investors said the bank had worked hard to convince shareholders to vote against the proposal to split the chairman and CEO spot, holding countless meetings with board members and executives.

"The company pulled out all the stops," said Lisa Lindsley, director of capital strategies for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), one of the shareholders that sponsored the proposal to split the chairman and CEO roles.

When push came to shove, "people were worried Dimon was going to walk," said Leon Kamhi, executive director of Hermes equity ownership services - one of the sponsors of the split chair proposal.

Last year's vote came before most of the $6.2 billion in derivatives trading losses came to light.   Continued...

JPMorgan Chase & Co CEO Jamie Dimon speaks about the state of the global economy at a forum hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in Washington October 10, 2012. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas