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April 6, 2013 at 12:27 PM   |   Comments

Board backs Dimon as CEO and chairman

NEW YORK, April 6 (UPI) -- Board members at JPMorgan Chase are urging shareholders to allow Chief Executive Jamie Dimon to remain as chairman, The New York Times reported.

The financial giant's directors have been setting up meetings with shareholder groups ahead of next month's annual stockholders' meeting to try to secure votes to support Dimon, who oversaw the bank while it suffered huge trading losses in short order just over a year ago, the Times said Saturday.

At last year's annual meeting, 40 percent of the shareholders voted to split Dimon's roles as chief executive officer and chairman -- a rare move for a large bank, where the top executive normally takes on both jobs, the Times said.

"If you separate the roles, there is another set of eyes and ears," said Michael Levine, a portfolio manager at OppenheimerFunds.

"That is not a bad thing, because there is more accountability," he said.

Company directors said in a proxy filling they stand behind the current structure.

"The board has determined that the most effective leadership model for the firm currently is that Mr. Dimon serves as both," the filing said.

A shareholder vote would not be binding, but it would send a clear message to the board that shareholders did not support Dimon.

The U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations issued as report in March saying JPMorgan Chase misled investors and regulators failed to act on warnings about trades that led to at least $6 billion in losses. The report concluded the institution ignored mounting risk associated with complex derivatives trades and took steps to mislead investors as losses mounted.

"We don't believe the person responsible for these costly mistakes should be overseeing reforms," said Denise Nappier, the Connecticut state treasurer and a supporter of a proposal filed by shareholders to put Dimon's job structure up for a vote.

Dimon's 2012 pay was slashed in half to $11.5 million after the trading debacle.


Boeing: 787 Dreamliner test 'uneventful'

CHICAGO, April 6 (UPI) -- Boeing Co. said a second test flight of its grounded 787 Dreamliner jet in Everett, Wash., was trouble-free.

The company said in a statement the Friday flight -- lasting 1 hour, 49 minutes -- was "uneventful," and "straightforward," Britain's Guardian newspaper reported.

The statement said Boeing expects to deliver data from the test to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration "in the coming days. Once we deliver the materials we stand ready to reply to additional requests and continue in dialog with the FAA to ensure we have met all of their expectations," the company said.

The 787 Dreamliners were grounded around the world after two fires in January that originated with the electrical systems at or near the jet's lithium-ion batteries.

One incident occurred on a runway of a plane that was being serviced. There were no passengers onboard.

In the other incident, the jet made a successful emergency landing.

Boeing has sold 50 jets and has orders for hundreds more.


White House: China tech ban needs revision

WASHINGTON, April 6 (UPI) -- A new law limiting U.S. government purchases of technology systems from China could be "highly disruptive" and should be revised, the White House said.

The restriction was included in a temporary spending bill enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama last week. It blocks NASA, the National Science Foundation and the Commerce Department from buying technology "produced, manufactured, or assembled," by companies connected to the Chinese government, The Hill newspaper reported Saturday.

It can be waived with approval from the FBI or another similar agency, the newspaper said.

White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told The Hill in an email the language in the new law is unclear, making it difficult to implement.

"It could be highly disruptive without significantly enhancing the affected agencies' cybersecurity," Hayden said.

The law was intended to address concerns that the government of China may use equipment sold by Chinese businesses to spy on American businesses and individuals. Hayden said addressing those concerns would be better served by open dialogue between Washington and Beijing.

She said the White House will work with Congress to revise the law's language.

Several U.S. business interests have said the could disrupt federal agencies' ability to acquire such items as new computer systems, and could even result in China imposing similar restrictions on businesses acquiring equipment from U.S. companies, The Hill reported.


Chernin bids $500 million for Hulu

LOS ANGELES, April 6 (UPI) -- One of the founders of video website Hulu, Peter Chernin, has offered more than $500 million for the U.S. company, an executive close to the talks said.

Chernin is a former News Corp. president who helped create Hulu five years ago with former NBCUniversal Chief Executive Officer Jeff Zucker.

Hulu is owned by Walt Disney Co., News Corp. and NBCUniversal. Disney and News Corp. have not agreed on which direction to take the company and Zucker and Chernin are no longer in executive positions that could allow them to effect changes, the Los Angeles Times said Saturday.

Enthusiasm for Hulu's prospects at both News Corp. and NBCUniversal are on the wane, the newspaper said.

The management troubles might have been solved had Disney or News Corp. gone ahead and bought the company outright, but those plans have been shelved. In the meantime, NBCUniversal lost its voice over the company's affairs as part of an antitrust settlement agreed to by parent company Comcast Corp. in 2011.

One telling detail is the valuation of the firm at $500 million. It was valued at more than $2 billion just two years ago, the newspaper said.

But much of its value is derived from exclusive rights to various content or exclusive time periods in which it can offer videos before anyone else. None of the companies that own Hulu have extended exclusive rights to television shows that made the website so valuable in the past.

Chernin's spokesman declined to comment on the latest developments. Chernin could not be reached by press time, the Times said.

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