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NEW YORK (
JPMorgan Chase(JPM - Get Report) has been going to lots of effort of late to show investors that it has a successor for Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon, but anyone who thinks the bank is anything but a dictatorship is sadly mistaken.
Several potential Dimon successors have gone by the wayside in recent years. First there was Bill Winters, former co-head of the investment bank, who was shown the door by Dimon in 2009. Then it was retail bank chief Charlie Scharf, who was demoted to managing director in the company's private equity unit last year. Then Jes Staley, head of J.P. Morgan Asset Management and later head of the investment bank, who recently was kicked upstairs to a chairmanship role.
JPMorgan's PR machine would probably argue (without going on the record, of course) that all this shuffling around is a good thing and that Dimon and the board are working to find the right candidate, which inevitably means going through some trial and error.
mini profile of Dimon this week in New York Magazine tells a different story. It shows Dimon defiant in the wake of the $6 billion trading blunder that he initially said was a tempest in a teapot. "It's a
free. Fucking. Country, he tells the interviewer.
What this means is that Dimon, who also proudly proclaims during the interview that he isn't an anxious person, will do whatever he damn well pleases. He may go through the motions of trying to groom a successor to soothe the corporate governance gods, but he has no intention of leaving his job. At one time there was speculation that Dimon would become Treasury Secretary, but in the wake of the trading loss and the growing hatred toward the banking industry, that possibility seems off the table for the foreseeable future.
Fortunately for JPMorgan shareholders, Dimon is, for the most part, a capable CEO. Maybe he will turn into a version of Hank Greenberg, former head of
AIG(AIG), whose identity became so wrapped up in the company that no one else could understand how it worked. That worked very well for shareholders for many years. Until it didn't.
Written by Dan Freed in New York.
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