James Lee, JPMorgan banker who guided Wall Street's biggest, most prominent deals, dead at 62

NEW YORK, N.Y. – 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.” It 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. Insiders said 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, and was the lead investment banker behind United Airlines’ merger with Continental. He also helped General Electric sell off its NBC Universal division to Comcast.

“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 in a statement.

Lee worked for various parts of JPMorgan Chase for the bulk of his career.

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 partially led to the growth of the private-equity industry, where teams of investors pool money together to buy up companies.

Lee is survived by his wife Elizabeth and three children.


This story has been corrected to read that GM went public in 2010, not 2011.