Technology experts say J.P. Morgan and Chase Manhattan Corp. are unlikely to find any cost savings as they combine their back-office operations, but the synergies between their two technology incubators - and the two dynamic executives named to lead them - may produce some dramatic results.
Both Chase and J.P. Morgan are among the handful of banks that have set up incubators to invest in and advise young Internet companies.
Chase.com, led by Denis J. O'Leary, has concentrated its investments on large multiple bank alliances, such as Intelysis, a provider of business-to-business electronic procurement services; Identrus, a global digital certificate service; and Spectrum, a bank-owned electronic bill payment and presentment service.
LabMorgan, under the leadership of Nicolas Rohatyn, has devoted most of its investments to smaller start-ups such as Cygnifi, an online derivatives services company; MarketAxess, a fixed-income-technology company; and BondClick, a European exchange for government bonds.
"Chase.com and LabMorgan have a lot of things going on, and I would be surprised if there were a lot of overlap," said David Berry, director of research at Keefe Bruyette & Woods Inc. "I would hope the acquisition would lead to a better set of initiatives."
Steven Eisman, an equity analyst at CIBC World Markets, said, "Chase.com and LabMorgan do not overlap in their investments, but they have similar models, and eventually they will consolidate."
Mr. O'Leary and Mr. Rohatyn will share leadership responsibilities for the combined Chase.com and LabMorgan unit and will report to David A. Coulter, head of retail business for the new firm.
Mr. O'Leary, 43, took over Chase.com in January after working as the No. 2 executive in the consumer bank. Before that he spent four years as Chase's chief information officer.
"Denis does not come from a traditional technology background, but he has embraced technology like very few people I have seen. The guy is brilliant," said Rick Sellers, a partner at Arthur Andersen Business Consulting in Chicago.
Mr. Rohatyn, 39, moved to LabMorgan after heading up J.P. Morgan's credit markets business. Earlier, he founded J.P. Morgan's global emerging-markets business.
"Whenever you bring two big banks together, you get a proliferation of co-heads, and over the next year or two there will be a lot of shakeout," Mr. Berry said. "Nick and Denis have each been viewed as rising stars."
Over the years $396 billion-asset Chase has honed its technology for supporting bread-and-butter cash management, treasury, and foreign exchange services for large and middle-market companies while developing new technology-based services to support its smaller but healthy focus on retail banking. It is spending $2.6 billion this year on information technology, according to estimates from TowerGroup, the technology consulting firm.
J.P. Morgan, with assets of $266 billion, will run up a technology spending tab this year of about $1.1 billion, according to TowerGroup, to support its activities in equities, derivatives, investment banking, private banking, and trading.
Their differing agendas "suggest there may not be significant cost savings in information technology," said Michael J. McEvoy, an analyst at TowerGroup.