JPMorgan (JPM) Launched Firm-Wide Effort to Sell Off Assets

By Charlie Gasparino and Julie VerHage, Fox Business Network Sep 5, 2013, 4:16 PM 

JPMorgan Chase (JPM), the nation’s largest bank, has launched a firm-wide effort to sell off assets as regulatory probes into its operations continue to mount, the FOX Business Network had learned.

People inside the bank say that JPMorgan chief executive Jamie Dimon has given a directive to sell what he views as “non-core” assets and what the firm views as “hobbies” or businesses that aren’t big money makers.

Just today, JPMorgan announced it is leaving the private student loan business, and last month, the firm announced it will no longer trade in “physical commodities,” or warehousing raw materials. More sales are in the works, people at the bank say.

A spokesman declined to comment.

The effort comes as Dimon has told associates that he’s “spending more time on regulatory issues than ever before” and that he needs to shrink the size of the bank to focus on major lines of business. The move is important since Dimon has been reluctant to concede that JPMorgan is too big to manage and has told associates he wanted to keep its size intact.

Still, people inside JPMorgan say there are no efforts — at least for the moment — to fundamentally change the size of bank. In fact, bank executives are looking to grow major business units.

But the moves by Dimon are recognition that the regulatory probes are making it difficult to run a massive institution. JPMorgan has more than $2 trillion in assets, and its vast size and scope have been cited as a cause of the firm’s regulatory woes.

Dimon had been considered one of the best managers in the financial world, but as the bank has come under increasing scrutiny from government regulators, some analysts doubt that he can properly manage such far-flung operations.

Dimon has defended the bank’s size, saying that having such a large balance sheet helped JPMorgan dominate various businesses, such as mergers and acquisitions and underwriting, and crank out record earnings. Last year, the firm earned more than $20 billion.

Still, some on Wall Street say Dimon will at some point have to cut deeper than what he now envisions.

Analyst Dick Bove of Rafferty Capital Markets told FOX Business Network that JPMorgan was likely to spin off a “significant piece” of the bank in order to appease regulators.

“The government’s investigations of JPMorgan are part of a concerted effort to force change at the bank,” Bove said.

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