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JPMorgan, under pressure, gives up vote information

A sign stands in front of the JPMorgan Chase & Co bank headquarters building in New York, March 15, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
A sign stands in front of the JPMorgan Chase & Co bank headquarters building in New York, March 15, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

By Karen Freifeld and David Henry

(Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co , under pressure from New York officials, gave shareholders information about an upcoming vote that would increase oversight of Chairman and Chief Executive Jamie Dimon. But the ballot details may have come too late for some investors.

The bank's annual meeting is on Tuesday and by far the most controversial matter up for vote is whether Dimon should retain his chairman title.

Last week, the company that collects votes from investors, Broadridge Financial Solutions Inc , stopped telling shareholders how votes had been cast so far for this and other measures up for vote at the annual meeting. It was not clear why Broadridge stopped giving out the information. Investors that are lobbying other shareholders on proxy proposals use daily vote tallies to determine how to tailor their campaigns.

According to a source familiar with the situation, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office sent a letter late Friday to the bank's general counsel, Stephen Cutler, raising concerns about the cutting off of ballot information to shareholders.

Staff from Schneiderman's office held two conference calls with JPMorgan on Saturday, and the bank agreed to tell Broadridge to provide interim results to investors, the source said.

Broadridge, however, balked at providing the information, because it was not sure it had the legal authority to do so, the source said. But JPMorgan agreed to give the information directly to the sponsors of ballot measures as long as they signed a confidentiality agreement, the source added.

Receiving the information at this late stage is of limited use, said Dieter Waizenegger, executive director of the CtW Investment Group, which advises pensions that were voting against the bank in separate measures regarding the re-election of directors.

"We were cut off from the tallies during the crucial week leading up to the meeting," Waizenegger said.

JPMorgan was not immediately available for comment.

Melissa Grace, a spokeswoman for the New York Attorney General's office, said: "We appreciate that JPMorgan Chase was responsive to our concerns and has changed course on a decision that Attorney General Schneiderman believes was ill-advised under the circumstances."

Broadridge said on Monday that it follows U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission regulations, and there are no rules requiring that voting information be provided to proponents of proxy measures.

"Given concerns raised by multiple broker clients regarding the release of this voting, we have stopped releasing voting information to proponents," it said.

(Reporting by Karen Freifeld and David Henry; Editing by Dan Wilchins, Bernard Orr and Edmund Klamann)

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