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An Exile From Citi Cuts To The Chase


Jamie Dimon and Sandy Weill. The prot?g? and the mentor. The two had been together since 1982, when Dimon was hired as Weill's assistant at American Express Co. (AXP) They turned an obscure loan company into Travelers Group and then set out to create a banking empire by joining with Citicorp. The new Citigroup Inc. (C), formed in in October, 1998, would have a market value of $165 billion, would become the first global financial supermarket, and someday would be Jamie Dimon's to rule. Except that it wouldn't. Less than a month later, Weill cast Dimon out of the kingdom.

The departure of the brainy then 42-year-old known for his command of numbers was called a management shakeup, an explanation that left everything to the imagination. Maybe Dimon fatally damaged his relationship with Weill by not promoting Weill's daughter, a decision that led to her departure from Travelers. Or they may simply have clashed one too many times amid the tension of the merger. In any case, Dimon cleared out, took up boxing, and mulled his possibilities. Sixteen months later he ended up in Chicago, running Bank One Corp. (JPM). After four years of carefully rebuilding the troubled bank, he made the deal of his life. He sold Bank One to JPMorgan (JPM), returned to Manhattan, and this January took over as chief executive of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) Now he hopes to refine the strategy he and Weill designed for Citigroup and one day take on the company they created.

Thus a new rivalry is born: Dimon vs. Charles O. Prince III, the man Weill, who retired in April, anointed to surmount Citi's internal turmoil and investor frustrations.

By Susan Berfield


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