JPMorgan Chase vice chairman James “Jimmy” Lee, who was a key player in some of the biggest show business deals and one of the company’s most senior investment bankers, died unexpectedly on Wednesday morning at 62.
Lee was the lead banker for NBCUniversal when GE sold it to Comcast; he advised News Corp. during the conglom’s purchase of Dow Jones; and assisted in managing IPOs for Facebook and Twitter. He also advised Comcast on its aborted effort to buy Time Warner Cable this year.
Last year, Lee led the team at JPMorgan that underwrote China-based Alibaba’s $25 billion public offering, in what was the largest IPO ever.
In a statement JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon called Lee “a master of his craft, but he was so much more — he was an incomparable force of nature,” and “He will be sorely missed.” The statement provided no details on Lee’s death beyond calling it unexpected.
Lee worked in the industry for almost 40 years, starting out at Chemical Bank, where he launched its syndicated leverage finance group in 1982. In 1994 he took the company into high-yield lending. Manufacturers Hanovers bought Chemical, but he continued to lead the bank until its 2001 merger with JPMorgan.
TheStreet.com described Lee in a 2009 as “JPMorgan’s trillion dollar man.“