Magazine article American Banker

J.P. Morgan Pulls out of Bankers Roundtable; More Defections Ahead?

Magazine article American Banker

J.P. Morgan Pulls out of Bankers Roundtable; More Defections Ahead?

Article excerpt

J.P. Morgan & Co. has resigned as a member of the Bankers Roundtable, the national trade group representing commercial banking's 125 largest players.

Whether Morgan's move is an isolated event or foreshadows an exodus is unclear. But two other high-profile banks-NationsBank Corp. and Banc One Corp.-are clearly restless.

Both megabanks have lobbyists working hard to enact financial reform, but the Roundtable remains stubbornly opposed to the legislation.

Annie Hall, Banc One's director of public policy, said the $115 billion- asset bank is considering quitting. "We've had serious discussions around Banc One regarding the efficacy of the Bankers Roundtable," she said. "But we have not reached any decision, and frankly our people are torn."

NationsBank's lobbyist Mark Leggett declined to comment, but other bank lobbyists said that NationsBank is questioning why it belongs to a group working against its interests.

If either bank does withdraw, it could mean double-trouble for the group because both Banc One and NationsBank are involved in mergers with other important Roundtable members. Banc One is combining with First Chicago NBD Corp., while NationsBank is merging with BankAmerica Corp.

News of Morgan's defection surfaced only this week, though chairman and chief executive officer Douglas A. Warner resigned in a June 12 letter to Norwest Corp. chairman and CEO Richard M. Kovacevich, the Roundtable's current president.

"It wasn't a good fit for us on issues," Morgan spokesman Joseph Evangelisti explained. For example, the Roundtable focuses on retail banking issues such as bank insurance sales that are of no interest to the wholesale-oriented Morgan. Mr. Evangelisti added: "We're looking at our expenses very carefully."

Morgan pays dues to at least five other national trade groups, including the American Bankers Association, the Securities Industry Association, and the Investment Company Institute. …

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