Chase Gives Way to J.P. Morgan Partners –

NEW YORK – Half of J.P. Morgan Capital’s staff may currently be cruising headhunter hangouts in search of work, but at least their former employer’s namesake will live on.

In mid-January, Chase Capital Partners officially changed its name to J.P. Morgan Partners in conjunction with the $36 billion mega-banking merger completed on Dec. 31. The news has raised some market eyebrows given that Chase’s private equity brand name is stronger than Morgan’s, but few claim to be truly taken by surprise.

After all, this is the same group that just upped and dropped the Chemical Venture Partners name almost five years ago after Chemical Banking Corp. merged with Chase Manhattan Corp. In fact, the only major difference between the two deals in terms of moniker swapping is that Chemical gave up its name almost all together, while Chase is still represented by the J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. holding company title and in most of the new firm’s retail banking businesses.

“I love the new name,” said Jeffrey Walker, managing partner of J.P. Morgan Partners, who was in on the decision-making process. “It’s important for us to be part of the wholesale side and, in order to really do that, we need to be consistent.”

One source within the organization added that by centralizing under one name, a number of potentially divisive rivalries may be quelled.

“We could have called ourselves Chase Fleming Beacon Hambrecht & Quist Morgan Partners, but then we wouldn’t have the type of singular identity needed to move forward,” the source added.

Beyond the name change, however, there does not seem to be any noticeable difference in the former Chase Capital Partners. The firm is still raising its $5 billion global private equity fund, and a source said that it is close to selling off another couple hundred million in limited partnership interests.

Once completed later this month, J.P. Morgan Partners is expected to have sold off approximately $1.5 billion in LP interests through the secondary market.

As for J.P. Morgan Capital, however, there are some very noticeable changes. Namely, almost half of its employees have been asked to leave and none of the group’s top domestic personnel are believed to be staying on in a position of senior management. That includes Chief Executive Officer Tony Mayer who is officially retiring, although one knowledgeable market source said the decision wasn’t entirely Mayer’s to make. The source added that there has been at least some outside interest in Mayer, primarily from a mid-tier banking outfit looking to expand its private equity businesses.

When contacted for this story, Mayer abruptly declined comment.

As for other J.P. Morgan Capital players, approximately 35 are out looking for work.

“The resumes are really pouring in from Morgan, not only on the private equity side but from all over,” said Adam Zoia, managing partner with Glocap Search LLC. “It’s been disproportionate to what we’ve seen from other recent banking mergers because it is the time of the year when people have just collected their bonuses so they don’t feel they need to stick around.” He added that there is also an acknowledged culture clash issue between investment banking stalwart Morgan and consumer-focused Chase.

As for whether the J.P. Morgan Capital staff will be able to find new jobs, Zoia said that he believes a majority of them will find their way into pure banking roles or into leveraged buyout funds. Venture capital will be tougher since that market has recently cut back on hiring, especially for professionals without strong technical backgrounds.

Of course, half of the J.P. Morgan Capital staff is sticking around. Although Walker will retain control of the overall organization, former Morgan managing general partner Timothy Purcell has accepted a post running the new firm’s Latin American operations. Purcell’s position as the highest-ranking former J.P. Morgan Capital employee is not terribly surprising given that Latin America is one region where some feel Morgan was as strong or stronger than Chase Capital Partners.