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Citigroup included the question in a proxy statement it filed on Wednesday for its annual meeting next month, and the shareholder sponsoring that proposal said he has a similar one slated for the upcoming ballot for JPMorgan's annual meeting.
The shareholder, Bart Naylor, said he hopes the proposals get more votes than the 4 percent he got for a measure last year that called for Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) to break up.
The Citigroup and JPMorgan proposals "are more deferential to the boards in asking them to study the vicissitudes of a breakup," Naylor said in an interview. He hopes proxy advisory firms, which often sway one-third of votes with their recommendations to institutional investors, will back studies by directors even if they won't tell directors to break up the banks.
"These banks are too big to manage," Naylor said.
Citigroup directors opposed Naylor's resolution in Wednesday's filing, noting that the company has undertaken a transformation on its own to become smaller and more efficient. Citigroup has shed more than $500 billion of assets since 2008.
A JPMorgan spokesman declined to comment on Naylor's proposal. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon has said that JPMorgan is stronger because of its large and diverse businesses.
Naylor said he failed to get a similar measure on the slate for the next Bank of America shareholders meeting because he made a mistake and did not properly certify that he owned shares.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier on Wednesday that Naylor's proposals would be on the ballots.
The breakup of large banks into smaller ones has been an issue on the U.S. campaign trail.
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who has drawn the support of the Democratic Party's populist wing in his run for the party's presidential nomination, has said he would create a "too-big-to-fail list of commercial banks, shadow banks, and insurance companies" and break them up in the first year of his administration.
Reporting by Vishaka George in Bengaluru and David Henry; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Jonathan Oatis