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JPMorgan to sell small investment business in Asia

A sign outside the headquarters of JP Morgan Chase & Co in New York, September 19, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Segar
A sign outside the headquarters of JP Morgan Chase & Co in New York, September 19, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Segar

(Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co, which is pushing to simplify operations on its $2.46 trillion balance sheet, has put up for sale its Global Special Opportunities Group, an Asia-based unit that makes investments in mid-sized companies, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The group employs about 35 people and tends to take stakes in loans that rank low in the capital structures of companies smaller than the large multi-national corporations the bank usually courts for international business, the person said declining to be identified because they were not authorized to speak on the record.

The bank is marketing the unit to private equity funds and credit-oriented hedge funds that make similar investments.

The unit is focused on real estate, impaired assets and principal finance and has expertise in distressed debt, according to a page on JPMorgan's website. It has its home office in Hong Kong.

The decision to sell the unit was reported earlier on Monday by the Financial Times.

JPMorgan, the biggest U.S. bank by assets, has been moving this year to unload ancillary businesses, or "hobbies," as CEO Jamie Dimon sometimes calls them.

JPMorgan is selling its physical commodities business after concluding its prospects were too dim in light of how much it complicated the relationship with regulators. It is also spinning off One Equity Partners, its private equity business, and has said it will quit making student loans.

The bank announced its drive to simplify after coming under pressure from regulators and politicians for its size amid questions about whether it can safely manage its diverse operations. Last year, the company lost more than $6.2 billion when a derivatives trading strategy went out of control in London.

(Reporting by David Henry in New York; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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