Banking, finance, and taxes

Large Shareholder Group Calls to Split CEO and Chairman Role of Jamie Dimon at J.P. Morgan

Jamie Dimon of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) used to be a Teflon CEO. Now we have a shareholder action looking to split the role of chairman and chief executive for the bank. You just could not speak poorly of him as he was the one American CEO of all the banking giants during the meltdown and Great Recession that could keep claiming that his bank and his depositors were safe. That was all before the London Whale trade scandal of 2012.

While that London Whale trading issue was a serious flaw and a serious mistake, the reality is that it was nowhere close to being anything more than a charge against earnings. It caused trading losses but did not cause the bank to get into counter-party trouble, nor did it trigger any “real” regulatory bank financial ratio concerns. That being said, this was a media fiasco that Dimon effectively lost a lot of his credibility.

J.P. Morgan Chase is the largest of the money center banks by market cap, barely over Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC), but it dwarfs Wells Fargo on a total asset basis. We have received email communications from a group with $820 million in combined J.P. Morgan shares calling for stronger and more independent governance and oversight of the largest bank in America. This will be a proxy fight. Here is the report:

A coalition of investors including the AFSCME Employees Pension Plan, the Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds, Hermes Equity Ownership Services and the NYC Pension Funds, has filed a shareowner proposal calling on JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) to name an independent board chairman. JP Morgan Chase shareowners will vote on the proposal at the company’s 2013 annual meeting in May.

The full document with supporting data and grievances is not yet on the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO website. We would note about this group, the intro to their website says, “It’s time to stop wasteful giveaways that benefit the super rich and big corporations. We need to protect programs that working people rely on and create a fair economy. Sign our petition to Congress.”

As far as how $820 million compares to the big picture, J.P. Morgan has a market cap of $187.1 billion. Its shares are down 0.6% at $49.15 so far on Wednesday.

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