By Colin Kellaher

JPMorgan Chase & Co. on Friday said Lee Raymond, its longtime lead independent director and the recent target of a vote-out campaign over climate-change concerns, is leaving the board at the end of the year.

The former Exxon Mobil Corp. chief has spent more than 30 years on the board of the bank and its predecessor, J.P. Morgan & Co., and has been lead independent director since 2001.

Environmental groups and several large institutional investors earlier this year called for the ouster of Mr. Raymond from the JPMorgan board, saying his energy background conflicts with his duties when its comes to climate-change risk. Mr. Raymond engineered the $82 billion merger of Exxon Corp. and Mobil Corp. in 1999 and helped build the combined company into America's biggest oil producer before leaving at the end of 2005.

They also raised concerns that JPMorgan has for years waived the board's retirement age of 72 for the 82-year-old Mr. Raymond, the bank's longest-serving director and a trusted adviser to Chairman and Chief Executive Jamie Dimon.

In a memo to the bank's staff, Mr. Dimon said Mr. Raymond was "an instrumental force in helping make JPMorgan Chase the outstanding company it is today," adding that he helped the bank navigate through some of its most challenging times.

In its proxy statement for this year's annual meeting, JPMorgan said it declined an offer by Mr. Raymond not to stand for re-election to the board, and it noted that he had asked the board to start a process to find a successor as lead independent director. The bank in September said former NBCUniversal LLC chief Stephen Burke, a board member since 2004, would become lead independent director at the start of next year.

Despite the vote-out campaign, Mr. Raymond garnered the support of nearly 85% of the votes cast for re-election to another board term expiring in May of next year. JPMorgan on Friday said Mr. Raymond is retiring, and that his early departure isn't due to any disagreement with the company.

Write to Colin Kellaher at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

12-18-20 1203ET