Dimon clings to JPMorgan chairman title, after fight

Tue May 21, 2013 8:03pm EDT
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By David Henry

TAMPA, Florida (Reuters) - Jamie Dimon, chairman and chief executive of JPMorgan Chase & Co took an unusual step to fight off investors seeking more oversight of his activities - he hinted he might quit.

And it worked. At the bank's annual meeting on Tuesday, JPMorgan shareholders voted down a proposal to strip Dimon of his chairmanship, giving the measure even less support than last year.

Investors showed some unhappiness with the bank's management by only barely re-electing three directors who oversaw a massive trading loss last year. But on the whole, the day was seen as a victory for management, which successfully navigated JPMorgan through the financial crisis, but has suffered some high-profile problems recently.

"People were worried Dimon was going to walk," said Leon Kamhi, executive director of Hermes Equity Ownership Services, one of the sponsors of the shareholder proposal to split the roles.

Robert McCormick, chief policy officer for proxy adviser Glass Lewis & Co, added: "It's rare that companies play that card."

Glass Lewis and Institutional Shareholder Services, the two biggest firms that advise investors on how to vote in proxies, both recommended that shareholders vote in favor of taking the chairman title away from Dimon.

The results highlight how difficult it can be for investors to fight management in proxy votes. Some shareholders thought they had a good chance of winning on the question of Dimon's chairmanship after the bank suffered $6.2 billion in losses last year from bad credit bets known as the "London whale" trades.

But JPMorgan fought hard. The bank's directors spoke to about a dozen major investors during their campaign. The shareholder proposal was non-binding - the board only had to consider it not enact it - but losing would have been a black eye for Dimon.   Continued...