* Just 32.2 pct of shareholders vote against, vs 40.1 pct
* Three directors re-elected by unusually slim margins
By David Henry
TAMPA, Florida, May 21 Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan
Chase & Co's outspoken chairman and chief executive, won
a vote of confidence on Tuesday as shareholders recommended that
he keep his chairman title, giving him a greater margin of
approval than last year.
Investors who had pressed for Dimon to be stripped of his
chairman title said they believed they lost because of the chief
executive's hints he would quit if he did not win the vote.
Just 32.2 percent of shareholder votes were in favor of a
proposal to create an independent chairman, compared with 40.1
percent last year, the bank said at its annual meeting in Tampa,
Florida. Dimon smiled as he left the meeting, and the bank's
shares rose to their highest level since 2001.
The CEO could not claim total victory. Three JPMorgan
directors were re-elected by an unusually slim majority. The
three directors were on the board's risk management committee,
which is widely seen as having fallen down after the bank lost
$6.2 billion from risky derivatives bets last year known as the
London Whale trades.
But investors said the bank had worked hard to convince
shareholders to vote against the proposal to split the chairman
and CEO spot, holding countless meetings with board members and
"The company pulled out all the stops," said Lisa Lindsley,
director of capital strategies for the American Federation of
State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), one of the
shareholders that sponsored the proposal to split the chairman
and CEO roles.
When push came to shove, "people were worried Dimon was
going to walk," said Leon Kamhi, executive director of Hermes
equity ownership services - one of the sponsors of the split
Last year's vote came before most of the $6.2 billion in
derivatives trading losses came to light.
Lee Raymond, a former ExxonMobil CEO who now serves
as lead independent director on JPMorgan's board, told
shareholders before the tally was announced that the episode is
not a reason to split the CEO and chairman roles.
"Just the opposite," he said during a question-and-answer
session at the meeting. "We don't think this is time for
Raymond, who is viewed as a counterweight to Dimon on the
board, did say that changes were afoot on the board's risk
committee but he did not elaborate.
Shares of JPMorgan rose 2 percent to $53.35, their highest
since February 2001.
Among big-bank CEOs, Dimon ranks first for stock returns and
has been praised for leading the bank through the financial
crisis with a strong balance sheet and no quarterly losses.
"Take a winning football team. One could always ask the
question whether the team would have been as effective without
the quarterback," said Benjamin Ram, a co-manager of the $1.6
billion Oppenheimer Main Street Select fund.
"The team gets part of the credit, but Jamie Dimon as the
leader also gets the credit," Ram added.
Ram's fund has 6.4 percent of its assets in JPMorgan shares,
according to Lipper, a Thomson Reuters company. He declined to
comment on how he was voting.
In the runup to the vote, Institutional Investors Services
and Glass Lewis & Co - two proxy advisory firms whose
recommendations are often followed by institutional investors -
issued reports critical of the board, particularly the members
of the risk committee, whose experience they found wanting.
At the time of the London Whale losses, the committee was
made up of James Crown, president of a large family investment
company; David Cote, the CEO of Honeywell International Inc
and Ellen Futter, who heads the American Museum of
Natural History in New York. All three remain on the panel,
augmented by a fourth member.
Futter, who won only a 53.1 percent approval from
shareholders, did not attend Tuesday's meeting. The Wall Street
Journal reported earlier on Tuesday that Futter would likely
resign from the board if she won only a slim majority of the