Who Could Take the Reins From Jamie Dimon?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Jamie Dimon, the current chairman, president, and CEO of JPMorgan Chase (JPM), was diagnosed with a treatable form of throat cancer. Dimon will cut down on his travelling as a result of the diagnosis, however he plans to remain in his position at JPMorgan.

"The prognosis from my doctors is excellent, the cancer was caught quickly, and my condition is curable," Dimon wrote to his employees on July 1.

However, in the unlikely event of his stepping down, who would take the reins?

Matt Zames, chief operating officer at JPMorgan, and Daniel Pinto, chief executive officer of corporate investment banking would be both be likely candidates after their cleanup of the bank's Chief Investment Office unit. Both Zames and Pinto will also likely have a busy summer providing reinforcement to Dimon even if he is able to guide the nation's largest bank by assets during his eight-week treatment regimen.

Keefe Bruyette & Woods analyst Chris Mutascio names Zames as a possible longer-term successor to Dimon. If JPMorgan was forced to name an interim or full-time successor to Dimon in the near-term, Mutascio said in a client note Pinto, Gordon Smith, head of JPMorgan's consumer banking, and Doug Petno, CEO of JPMorgan's commercial bank at since 2012, would be the most likely candidates.

Some other stand-in candidates or possible successors have recently left JPMorgan, possibly limiting the firm's options. Mike Cavanaugh, seen on Wall Street as an executive that was being groomed to eventually replace Dimon, left the firm recently for the private equity giant, Carlyle Group (CG). Former top executives such as Jes Staley, Frank Bisignano, Charlie Scharf and Heidi Miller were also potential candidates before their recent departures.

Perhaps, JPMorgan might look outside for Dimon's replacement if the need ever arose? Some JPMorgan watchers say that's not likely.

Richard Bove of Rafferty Capital Markets on the possibility of an outside hire:

"I don't think there is any likelihood whatsoever that Dimon's replacement would come from outside the firm. It would be seen as a sign of significant failure." 

Still, in any talk of succession, it's worth considering all the options. In the following pages, TheStreet outlines five outside candidates JPMorgan might want to consider.

Jay Fishman, CEO of Traveler's  (TRV) since 2004 and friend of Dimon's since the 1980's, appeared on the cover of Forbes under the title "Wall Street's Honest Man" because of his straightforward talking and conservative investing practices. Fishman came to Traveler's in 1993 as their chief financial officer when Traveler's bought Primerica, where Fishman was working as an executive at the time. Fishman's navigation through the financial crisis that left Traveler's unscathed would make him a possible candidate for the position.

Fishman and Dimon's relationship goes back to the creation of Citigroup  (C) under Sandy Weill. Were JPMorgan to prove unwieldy to shareholders and regulators, Fishman, having served during the rise and fall of Citigroup, could have the right touch to reign in the bank's operations.

Robert Benmosche is currently in the process of retiring from his position as CEO of AIG  (AIG), which would make him available to take over at JPMorgan. Benmosche became CEO of AIG in 2009 and has since turned the company around and repaid the $182 billion bailout AIG received from the federal government during the financial crisis.

No financial services firm on Wall Street took more money from the federal government during its 2008 and 2009 rescue than AIG (AIG) and no CEO did a better job than Benmoshce in selling assets and rebuilding regulators' trust in the years since. Were JPMorgan to continue to find itself plagued by regulatory probes, he might be a credible outsider in the eyes of Wall Street and Washington to clean house.



Ed Clark of TD Bank has similarly appointed a successor and has plans to retire. This would make him available were JPMorgan willing to pull from outside sources. Clark joined TB Bank Group when it acquired Canada Trust Financial Services in 2000. Clark has been making news recently about his warnings of the fragility of the Canadian economy as a result of rising debt and for his support of the LGBT community.

Canadian banks avoided many of the missteps that landed their international peers in the hands of government by way of crisis-time bailouts. Were shareholders to increasingly ascribe a premium to traditional banking, outgoing TD Bank head Clark might be boring type of banker to rein in JPMorgan's investment banking operations. 

Richard Kovacevich, the retired CEO from Wells Fargo  (WFC) is another possible candidate because of his history of expanding businesses like Citibank and Norwest. Kovacevich helped Norwest expand by buying multiple banks, including Wells Fargo. Norwest was renamed Wells Fargo after the purchase. Kovacevich received an MS and BS from Stanford in industrial engineering before getting an MBA from Stanford Business School.

Kovacevich, like Dimon, has a penchant for speaking his mind. He and Dimon also share a similar credibility on Wall Street after both banking executives were instrumental in navigating their firms ably through the housing boom and bust, while competitors such as Bank of America (BAC) and Citigroup blundered mightily.

Richard Davis, chairman, president, and CEO of US Bancorp (USB), would be a possible successor after his aggressive expansion of US Bancorp by introducing different divisions to the company.

US Bancorp, a favorite of Berkshire Hathaway's Warren Buffett, has emerged as one of the premier firms in small and mid-size business banking. Were JPMorgan to look at diversifying its earnings away from investment and retail banking, Davis might have the skill set to strengthen JPMorgan's position in new markets.

-- Written by Whalen MacHale in New York.

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