The Salad Days
Given the carefully tended public images CEOs cultivate it's always fun to run across clues as to who they were before they became who they are now. One such reminder is to be found in Jamie Dimon's high school yearbook.
In a New York Magazine blog post on Tuesday, the magazine reprinted a photo of the JPMorgan Chase & Co. executive as a teenager sporting long hair and a distinctly countercultural bandana sitting on a mountaintop and reaching out into the sky as if engaged in a transcendent experience, with lips slightly pursed. Not exactly someone who might be voted "Most Likely to Become a Banker."
Reintroduced to the photo by a New York reporter, Dimon explained he was striking a pose, and actually had been suffering from altitude sickness on the highest mountain in Colorado just before the photograph. Dress and hair length aside, the story now plays into a more conventional modern-day corporate chieftain's narrative: executive ruggedness.
Banks again seem poised to attach their names to big sporting venues.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. has reportedly agreed to a sponsorship deal with Madison Square Garden that could be worth $300 million over the next 10 years, the Sports Business Journal reported on its website Monday. The company would gain naming rights inside the venue and also have sponsorship rights to attractions such as Radio City Music Hall and the Chicago Theater, the report said.
JPMorgan Chase officials declined to comment. A source close to the situation said the deal would be worth less, about $15 million or more a year for multiple years.
Banks became very leery of sponsorship deals during the financial crisis, particularly those participating in the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
Last month, Wells Fargo & Co. announced plans to reclaim its naming rights to the PGA Tour's 2011 Wells Fargo Championship. Wells inherited a long-term contract when it bought Wachovia Corp. in 2008, but has left its name off the event for the past two years.
After more than two years of litigation, BankAtlantic Bancorp has called off its defamation case against analyst Richard Bove.
In 2008, Bove included BankAtlantic on a list of banks at risk of failing during the financial crisis. BankAtlantic executives didn't appreciate the attention — the company's stock price dropped 25% within a day — and argued that it was improper for Bove to base his analysis on the condition of BankAtlantic's parent company.
Bove and his then-bosses at Ladenburg Thalmann & Co. initially dismissed the merits of BankAtlantic's suit. But Bove resigned from the firm in February of last year, after complaining that his employer wasn't holding its ground.
"The fact that I've had to leave a really good company because of this lawsuit is more than a little upsetting," Bove told Bloomberg News at the time.
BankAtlantic continued to press its case against Bove after his hiring by Rochdale Securities — even after the company sought to raise capital and launched an attempt to repurchase trust-preferred securities it issued for 20 cents on the dollar.
Broward County Circuit Court records show that the case has been dismissed, though the actual case documents aren't available online. Bove said that he made no concessions, and that he would have more to say in the next few weeks. BankAtlantic did not respond to requests for comment.
Back in the days of the Bank of America and Wachovia rivalry, the two Charlotte companies regularly competed over ATM locations, office building height and local credentials such as funding charities, museums, stadiums and public works.
Perhaps that competition isn't quite over. The Charlotte Observer reported Tuesday that Wells Fargo is opening a museum in town — and not far away from the "heritage center" that B of A opened in 2006.
Located in a Wachovia building on Tryon Street, Charlotte's main drag, it will contain a mix of artifacts from Wachovia and Wells, both of which were founded in the second half of the 19th century.
"The museum will honor Wachovia's rich history and introduce the Wells Fargo name and brand to our community," Kendall Alley, Charlotte region community banking president for Wells, wrote in a memo to staff obtained by the Observer.
Speaking of Wells … One thing that won't be found in a Wells Fargo museum is the company's earliest foray on to the Internet. James Smith, who has headed up the company's online (and later mobile) efforts for the past 16 years, lamented during an interview Tuesday that he hadn't saved a copy of Wells' first website, launched in 1994.
"It was beautifully ugly," he said, chuckling. "A gray Netscape browser window, with a courier type font and a big picture of the stagecoach that took forever to download."
What Wells' maiden dot-com effort lacked in pulchritude it did not make up for in utility. At the time, Smith recalls, just getting a site with information about Wells online was rather cutting edge — though as soon as it was launched, Internet savvy customers began badgering Wells for the ability to check their balances, a feature it added the following year.