James Lee, prominent JPMorgan investment banker, dies at 62

AP News
|
Posted: Jun 18, 2015 2:20 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — James "Jimmy" Lee, the JPMorgan Chase banker who helped arrange some of the biggest corporate deals for companies including General Motors, News Corp. and Facebook, died Wednesday. He was 62 years old.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced Lee's death, saying he passed away "unexpectedly." The bank did not give further details.

Lee was among the best-known dealmakers on Wall Street. If a company wanted to go public, sell a business or merge with a competitor, Lee was often in the middle of it. The fact that Lee was advising on a deal was a stamp of credibility, in and of itself.

He co-led the deal to help Facebook go public in 2012. JPMorgan was the lead bank on General Motors' initial public offering in 2010, following its government-aided bankruptcy. GM's $23 billion IPO was the largest in U.S. history.

Lee helped Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. buy Dow Jones in 2007 -- stunning the media world at the time. Lee was the lead investment banker behind United Airlines' merger with Continental. He also helped General Electric sell off its NBC Universal division to Comcast.

In many ways, Lee epitomized the Wall Street. He wore pin-stripe suits, and cuff links, slicking back his hair. He was all about making the deal -- and he made dozens of them.

"Jimmy was a master of his craft, but he was so much more — he was an incomparable force of nature," said JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon.

Lee worked for various parts of JPMorgan Chase for nearly his entire career on Wall Street.

He started at Chemical Bank in the 1970s, which later became Chase. Lee was credited with creating what's known as the loan-syndication market, which is when a group of banks come together to make a large loan to a company, with each of the banks taking on a different part of the risk. Loan syndications helped foster the growth of the private-equity industry, where teams of investors pool money together to buy up companies.

Business executives published tributes to Lee after his unexpected death was reported.

"Just got devastating news of my dear friend Jimmy Lee's death. A great guy, businessman and family man. What a loss for so many," said Jack Welch, the former chairman and CEO of GE, on Twitter.

Venture capitalist Marc Andreessen called Lee a "friend and mentor to me and so many others."

Lee is survived by his wife Elizabeth and three children.