NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of JPMorgan Chase (JPM) will suffer if investors vote to split the chairman and CEO roles currently held by Jamie Dimon at the May 21 annual meeting next week, according to analysts.
A possible exit by Dimon, who has successfully steered the bank through the financial crisis and has a strong track record, could destabilize operations, they argue.
And the question of who will be equal enough to the task of running the country's largest and most complex bank will also weigh on the stock.
CLSA analyst Mike Mayo believes shares may fall as much as 10% if the vote goes in favor of an independent chairman. While the bank enjoys a premium to its peers given its superior returns, "there would be increased concern about the sustainability of those returns with the degree of change," in management, Mayo wrote in a note Monday. He noted the bank has already seen excessive turnover in management over the past year."While the outcome of next week's vote remains unclear, it is our view that a vote to split the roles would be negative to JPM shares," UBS analyst Brennan Hawken said in a report Wednesday. "Therefore, we would be surprised if shareholders willingly decide to risk destroying value this way." Votes for the proposal to split the roles are currently running slight ahead of 40% it received last year, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.
At the current run rate, Dimon could still get to keep both his titles. Still, the recommendations by two influential proxy advisory firms, ISS and Glass Lewis, threaten to sway the vote. Sell-side analysts are in favor of Dimon as CEO, but admit that they cannot rule out the possibility that the vote could go against him. Dimon's reputation as one of the savviest risk managers on Wall Street was tarnished by the multi-billion dollar "London whale" trading losses last year. His image has not yet been restored since the debacle, although the bank's financials have barely been dented and continue to notch new records.
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