JPMorgan’s Dimon faces shareholder referendum

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013 | Finance News

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO JPMorgan Chase, told shareholders Tuesday that last year's $6 billion trading loss had been expensive and "extremely embarrassing," but he also asked shareholders not to fixate on the issue.

"It would have been a terrible shame if that one issue were allowed to damage the company from doing all the things it was supposed to do," Dimon told shareholders at the bank's annual shareholder meeting.

Shareholders are set to vote this morning on whether to strip Dimon, chairman and CEO of the country's largest bank, of his role as bank chairman. Early reports citing unnamed sources said the proposal had narrowly lost.

It's a topic that has turned into a referendum on Dimon, who emerged from the financial crisis heading one of the strongest banks in the country. His reputation has been tarnished over the past year over fallout from the so-called "London whale" trading loss, nicknamed for its size and the location of the trader who made the outsized bets on complex debt securities that went wrong.

At the meeting, held at company offices on the outskirts of Tampa, Fla., off a highway exit populated with gas stations and the Florida State fairgrounds, had fewer theatrics than last year, which was held just days after the trading loss was disclosed. Last year, two or three dozen protesters showed up, but Tuesday was quieter. One woman with a cardboard sign was spotted, but only briefly.

The bank is facing regulatory investigations and lawsuits, not only over the trading loss but other practices including foreclosures and alleged rigging of power prices. Michael Garland from the New York City Comptroller's Office, which supports splitting the roles, said he appreciated that JPMorgan led its peers by certain financial measures. But, he added, "it also leads its peers in regulatory investigations."

Lisa Lindsley from the union group AFSCME, which filed the proposal asking to split the jobs, said the bank needed "a new tone at the top." She said the proposal was never intended as a referendum against Dimon or a "personality contest," but as a measure for the best risk management.

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AP reporters Tamara Lush and Chris O'Meara contributed.

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