* Black steps down as investment bank executive chairman
* Will focus on advising clients, working with regulators (Adds comments from Black)
By Elinor Comlay
NEW YORK, Jan 28 (Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) named Steve Black vice chairman on Thursday and said he would step down from day-to-day involvement in investment banking.
A long-time JPMorgan executive, Black, 57, had said in September, after Dimon appointed Jes Staley CEO of the unit, that he would eventually step back from the investment bank.
Staley replaced Black and William Winters, previously co-heads of the investment bank. Winters left JPMorgan, while Black said he would stay on as executive chairman of the business for a transition period.
“The transition to Jes Staley as CEO of the investment bank has gone smoothly and quickly, and Steve has said that he would like to focus more of his time on advising our clients,” Chief Executive and Chairman Jamie Dimon said in a statement. Dimon and Black have known each other since they worked at Smith Barney.
The transition period had been slated to end later this year, but Black said in an interview with Reuters that Staley had got up to speed with the business quickly and it was better for Black to cede the day-to-day business to him sooner rather than later.
“Now it’s set up the way it’s supposed to be run,” he said.
Black said he and Staley had also wanted to get through the end of 2009 — compensation season for banks — before ending the transition period. JPMorgan put aside a record $9.3 billion to pay its investment bank employees for 2009 but its compensation expense was just 33 percent of revenue, less than the 45 to 50 percent industry standard of previous years. [ID:nN15114920]
Black said he is looking forward to spending time with clients again.
“I’ve really been tied to my desk the last three years,” he said. “Now’s a chance to get out and meet clients and I plan on doing it all over the world,” he added, noting that he just returned from a one-day client meeting in Brazil.
Black has agreed to stay with the bank for at least three years, Dimon wrote in an internal memo that was obtained by Reuters and confirmed by a spokeswoman. Black will report to Dimon and continue to serve on the bank’s operating committee. In the new role, Black will also meet with global regulators, the bank said.
JPMorgan, the second-largest U.S. bank by assets, behind Bank of America Corp (BAC.N), said this month that fourth-quarter profit soared to $3.3 billion, helped in large part by strong investment banking results. [ID:nN15183524]
The unit topped rankings for equity capital markets in 2009, helped in part by its March 2008 acquisition of Bear Stearns.
Black and Winters helped to steer JPMorgan’s investment bank through the financial crisis, when complex debt securities linked to subprime mortgages caused huge losses for rivals. The pair were also deeply involved in the Bear Stearns deal.
Winters has yet to resurface at another firm. (Reporting by Elinor Comlay; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Ted Kerr, Gary Hill)