James Lee, investment banking's 'force of nature', dies at 62

  • Reuters, New York
  • Updated: Jun 18, 2015 02:58 IST

immy Lee, one of JPMorgan Chase and Co's most senior investment bankers, died on Wednesday, the bank's chief executive said in a statement.

He was 62.

Lee, a vice-chairman in the investment banking group, advised some of the world's biggest companies, including the merger of United Airlines and Continental Airlines to form United Continental Holdings Inc, the takeover of Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones by News Corp, and the initial public offering of Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

He started his career with Chemical Bank in 1975, where he was one of the first to break up big corporate loans into small pieces to sell to other banks. These "syndicated loans," along with junk bonds from bankers like Drexel Burnham Lambert's Michael Milken, helped fuel the leveraged buyout boom of the 1980s.

Chemical Bank, through a series of mergers and acquisitions, became a part of what is now JPMorgan Chase.

"Jimmy was a master of his craft, but he was so much more - he was an incomparable force of nature," Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan's chief executive, said in the statement.

Lee felt shortness of breath while running on a treadmill at home on Wednesday morning, according to a person briefed on the matter who requested not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The sudden death surprised colleagues who were working with Lee as recently as this week.

"We're in total shock," said one senior JPMorgan banker. Lee is survived by his wife, Beth, and three children, Lexi, Jamie and Izzy.

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