EDITOR'S TAKE: Jamie may regret being horrid to Bill

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Jamie Dimon apparently got rid of Bill Winters because he thought that Bill, although clearly a brilliant investment banker, wasn't up to the challenge of running a financial services group as diversified as JP Morgan (or so says the Financial Times).

When Jamie jilted Bill, he didn't do it in a particularly pleasant way. He didn't call Bill and let him down easily. He didn't massage Bill's ego while pushing him aside. Instead, he apparently got Steve Black, Bill's partner, to break the news - and to do so on the evening before Bill's 48th birthday.

Now Bill may want to kill, and Jamie may come to regret this.

Yesterday's results from JP Morgan underscore the importance of the investment banking business to the organisation. As The Times today points out, the strong performance at JP Morgan's investment bank disguised weakness elsewhere: the consumer lending arm reported a net loss of $1bn; card services reported a net loss of $700m. The situation in both businesses could worsen before it improves.

In this context, the displacement of Winters as head of the investment bank looks bizarre. Duff McDonald, author of Last Man Standing: The Ascent of Jamie Dimon and JPMorgan Chase, praises Dimon's disposal of Winters and elevation of Jes Staley as evidence that Dimon is trying to de-mythologize himself. However, given Dimon doesn't appear to have any plans to leave soon, this seems somewhat suspect; it looks a little like Jamie got rid of Bill because Bill was a threat to him.

By a quirk of fate, Bill's deposal took place the day before Ken Lewis announced his retirement. Now Bill, fired up by Jamie's treatment of him, is free to join BofA/Merrill Lynch. If he does, he should be able to stabilize Merrill's wobbly European platform and will be in a position to go head to head with JP Morgan and Dimon. Jamie should be familiar with such rivalries: he was in much the same situation with Sandy Weill after Sandy ejected him from Citi. And look which organisation has come out on top.

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