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The article below is one of four selected to illustrate issues addressed in the following report:


Dow Jones Financial News, May 19, 2010 article


Dow Jones Financial News  


Dimon survives early heckles at AGM

Shanny Basar

19 May 2010

Jamie Dimon’s opening address at JP Morgan’s AGM in New York yesterday was interrupted by a heckling shareholder who eventually had to be led away. But the chairman and chief executive of the Wall Street firm brushed off the early interruption and ended the day in investors’ good books - both roles safely intact.


Dimon had begun with an overview of the bank’s individual businesses that had followed a video highlighting the firm’s achievements in 2009.

But the fortress-like atmosphere at the meeting was punctured in the early moments of Dimon’s speech by shouting from an investor later identified as Bruce Marks, chief executive of the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, a non-profit community and home ownership organisation.

Although he was led away by security, as a shareholder, he had the right to remain.

NACA had bussed in protesters to complain about the JP Morgan’s mortgage modification process and the demonstrators all held house keys, with their names on, to give to the bank’s executives. A number of individual shareholders got up to tell their stories about their mortgage difficulties and were directed to a special team who were on hand to deal with their queries.

The bank was also asked to review its lending to minority groups. Reverend Jesse Jackson said: ‘The Titanic did not sink because there were problems on deck but because of water coming in at the bottom and JP Morgan cannot command its own ship if there is a problem with the flotilla.”

Dimon said the real estate market was getting better and not worse as customer delinquencies and charge-offs are falling. He said: “More jobs will be good for housing prices and the economy is getting better as we speak.”

A number of shareholder groups and an individual from Appalachia bought up the issue of mountaintop removal for coal mining in the region, which they said was destroying the environment. They welcomed the bank’s commitment in its corporate responsibility report to stop financing companies that mine coal using a majority of mountain top removal but urged the commitment to be more specific, transparent and verifiable. Dimon said the bank will follow government regulation on the issue.

The meeting lasted just over three hours leading one 77-year old to regularly take up to the microphone and ask for the meeting to be moved on, saying : ‘I’m still not getting any younger.” In return, Dimon quipped : “But you’re looking better.”

Overall, Dimon met with applause whenever he was complimented by shareholders and a motion to separate the roles of chairman and chief executive was defeated, receiving 33.9% of votes, despite Calpers, Californian pension giant, voting in support of the shareholder proposal.

That percentage might still have seemed uncomfortably high for Dimon.

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