JP Morgan shareholders vote to keep Dimon as chairman, CEO

Shareholders at JP Morgan Chase have rejected a proposal to split Jamie Dimon's roles as chairman and CEO of the largest bank in the U.S. at an annual general meeting Tuesday that comes a year after the bank suffered an embarrassing $6 billion US trading loss.

Reject measure to split two roles at annual general meeting that comes 1 year after $6 billion US trading loss

Jamie Dimon was at the head of JP Morgan Chase when it suffered a series of embarrassing losses after a notorious trader at its London office made a series of risky transactions involving credit default swaps. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

Shareholders at JP Morgan Chase have voted to keep Jamie Dimon as chairman and CEO of the largest bank in the U.S.

At the bank's annual meeting in Tampa, Fla., only 32 per cent of shareholders voted for a measure that would have required the bank to split the roles, less than the 40 per cent that supported a similar proposal last year. Had the measure succeeded, Dimon would have had to relinquish the role of chairman.

In the previous six annual meetings where Dimon has been both chairman and CEO, shareholders have been asked about separating the roles four times. Last year marked the highest level of votes in favor of the idea. In 2007 and 2008, only about 15 per cent of shareholders voted for similar measures.

Investors welcomed the news that the measure had been defeated. JPMorgan's stock was up two per cent, or $1.09 US, at $53.38 in midday trading. The stock is at its highest level in 12 years.

Shareholder groups lobbying for the split of Diman's two roles gained momentum from last year's surprise $6 billion trading loss, but the bank and Dimon had argued that letting him keep both jobs was the most effective form of leadership.

Earlier Tuesday, Dimon told shareholders that the loss had been expensive and "extremely embarrassing," but he 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 said.

'London whale' scandal tarnished reputation

Dimon emerged from the 2008 financial crisis heading one of the strongest banks in the U.S., but his reputation was tarnished by the 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.

This year's annual general meeting had fewer theatrics than last year's, 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.