Domestic Pressures

Investors at JPMorgan Chase & Co. are eager to know when it will raise its dividend — Jamie Dimon's family included.

"My wife asks me the same question. She said she's running low on cash," the company's chairman and chief executive said during a question-and-answer session Tuesday at an event in New York.

Dimon, whose wife, Judith Kent Dimon, is a shareholder, too, said a dividend raise is unlikely this year, though he hopes the company can raise it next year if the economy shows sustained signs of improvement. JPMorgan Chase lowered its quarterly dividend to 5 cents in 2009.

Dimon made the comments at an event announcing that JPMorgan Chase will reduce interest rates on loans to small business borrowers that make new hires. Borrowers with loans of less than $250,000 can qualify for a rate cut of up to 2% if they hire up to three people and increase their credit line by at least $10,000.

Political Crossfire

Speaking of JPMorgan Chase … Given the climate of suspicion about "Government Sachs" and other banks' influence on government, it's only reasonable that people would try to make hay over New York gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio's former job as top lobbyist for JPMorgan Chase.

Less reasonable, however, is that those people would ask JPMorgan Chase to help them do it.

In a letter dated Wednesday to Lee Raymond, head of the company's compensation committee, first reported by the New York Daily News, New York Democratic Party Executive Director Charlie King has asked for "assistance" getting a hold of Lazio's compensation history.

Such information would provide insights into Lazio's "background, potential conflicts of interest, and fitness for office," King wrote.

Lazio's filings with the State Commission on Public Integrity provide some information, of course, though not specific dollar amounts, and Lazio hasn't yet released his tax returns as he previously suggested he would.

Asked about the letter, JPMorgan Chase declined to comment, and Lazio's campaign did not respond.

Rocket Man

A rocket scientist could help KeyCorp emerge from the recession. The Cleveland lender announced Thursday that it has hired Mark J.R. Williams — a former aerospace engineer — as director of strategy, a new position.

Williams joins Key from rival PNC Financial Services Group Inc., where he had worked since 2005 overseeing various corporate banking units, including global banking. He starts on Tuesday. His job will be to help business lines develop new initiatives and coordinate programs that span the entire organization.

Williams, who was previously a director in Capital One Financial Corp.'s credit cards business, started his career as an aerospace engineer with General Electric Co.'s aircraft engines unit.

Synovus Hires

Synovus Financial Corp. filled two key posts this week.

The Columbus, Ga., company named Curtis Perry as chief commercial officer, filling a post that became vacant when E. Dallis Copeland Jr. was named chief banking officer this year. Perry had been a senior executive vice president at the Synovus unit First Commercial Bank in Birmingham, Ala.

Separately, Synovus promoted Bill Nigh to regional CEO of its Tennessee markets. Nigh had been the president and CEO of Synovus' Trust One Bank in Memphis.

Da Bulls

A federal court judge denied a request by Morgan Keegan & Co., a unit of Regions Financial Corp., to overturn a $1.46 million securities arbitration award in favor of former pro basketball star Horace Grant for mutual fund losses.

The court, in an order rendered late Wednesday, rejected the company's arguments that an arbitrator on a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority panel was biased for allegedly referring to a family of Morgan Keegan money-losing bond funds tied to collateralized debt obligations as "crap," among other things. The Finra panel ruled in Grant's favor in a September order.

Morgan Keegan cited a conversation in which one arbitrator allegedly said, "Morgan Keegan was the lead underwriter for this crap. Someone has to take responsibility for it. You know, I start to get angry listening to that. This was a sucker play."

Grant played for several teams including the Chicago Bulls.

GE Capital's Catch

General Electric's finance arm, GE Capital, hired a new chief risk officer from Wells Fargo & Co., GE said Thursday.

Ryan Zanin succeeds Jim Colica, who is retiring after 27 years at GE.

Zanin most recently was the chief risk officer for corporate credit and risk management in international and capital markets at Wells Fargo. He also handled risk management at Wachovia Corp., which Wells bought in late 2008 in the midst of the financial crisis.

GE Capital caused headaches for its parent during the financial crisis. Worries about GE's exposure to the financial sector because of the unit — which often represented half the company's profits — cost it its AAA credit rating, forced the company to cut its dividend and propelled a decline in its stock. GE, which has said it allowed the division to grow too big, has been paring it down, with particular attention to lowering its real-estate portfolio.

GE Capital Chief Executive Mike Neal called Zanin a "proven risk manager with a global perspective and broad functional experience."

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