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Fresh questions over JP Morgan succession as boss Jamie Dimon recovers from heart surgery


JP Morgan’s chief executive Jamie Dimon is recovering from emergency heart surgery – shining a spotlight on the bank’s succession plans, with a British executive among frontrunners to replace him.

Mr Dimon experienced a tear in his heart’s main artery, which was detected early and treated successfully, JP Morgan said.

The 63-year-old has run the bank since 2005, and is the last Wall Street boss standing from before the financial crisis. He is said to be awake, alert and recovering well. JP Morgan did not say where he is being treated.

The bank’s co-presidents and co-chief operating officers, Daniel Pinto and Gordon Smith, are running JP Morgan as Mr Dimon recovers.

It focuses attention on potential successors for Mr Dimon. As well as Mr Pinto and Mr Smith they also include consumer lending boss Marianne Lake, who grew up in the UK and studied at the University of Reading.

The 50-year-old single mother has worked at JP Morgan for 21 years and was previously finance director.

JP Morgan will now have to weather its most turbulent period since the financial crisis without Mr Dimon in charge, as it attempts to deal with the fallout from the coronavirus. Its market value has plunged 17pc in the last two weeks.  

Brian Kleinhanzl, an analyst at KBW, said: “The bottom line is that Mr Dimon is often viewed as a steady hand for the banking industry during turbulent times (like we are in now), so not having him at the helm… is a modest negative.”

Mr Pinto, 57, and Mr Smith, 61, are regarded as the most likely successors in the short term should Mr Dimon step down.

An Argentine, Mr Pinto has spent his entire 37-year career at JP Morgan and its predecessor firms. He oversees the corporate and investment bank and has helped the lender surge to the top of Wall Street’s trading and investment-banking ranks.

Mr Smith runs the consumer bank, which has grown to contribute half of the firm’s revenue and has more employees than any other division.

Mike Mayo, an analyst at Wells Fargo, said: “JP Morgan has a deep management bench. Nonetheless, [Mr Dimon’s] industry leadership will be missed during this crisis-like period.”

JP Morgan did not give any guidance on how long Mr Dimon will be away. 

Analysis by the American College of Cardiology described acute aortic dissection – the condition developed by Mr Dimon – as “one of the most lethal cardiovascular conditions”.

It is most common in men in their 60s and 70s and the symptoms can often mimic a heart attack.  If treated in time, patients typically spend a week in hospital followed by several weeks’ recovery at home, according to medics. 

This is Mr Dimon’s second major health scare. In 2014, he was out of work for several months after being diagnosed with throat cancer but staged a full recovery.


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