JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Jimmy Lee was remembered as a tough competitor, a favorite golfing partner and a “force of nature.”
Widely credited as the architect of the modern-day syndicated loan market and one of Wall Street’s top dealmakers, Lee died Wednesday morning at age 62.
“Jimmy played a critical role in Facebook’s history. He believed in us long before many others did -– when we were a small company with little revenue he told us and anyone else who would listen how much potential he thought Facebook had.” -- Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook Inc., wrote in a post on the social network.
“He was a trusted adviser to our company and he worked with us on every important deal we have done at GE. We loved him dearly and could not have been closer to him if he was a GE employee. There will never be another Jimmy Lee.” -- Jeff Immelt, chairman and chief executive officer of General Electric Co.
“Jimmy was a terrific friend, a fierce competitor and a very proud father. He will be deeply missed.” -- Gary Cohn, president of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
“If you called up central casting and said, ‘Send me a banker,’ they’d send somebody who’s like Jimmy Lee...The hair back, and the two-tone shirt, and the expensive suits, and dined at all the best places. But along with that came a guy who was very decent.” -- Bill Daley, former chairman of JPMorgan’s Midwest region and later President Barack Obama’s chief of staff.
“As vice chairman of our company and former head of our investment bank, Jimmy made an indelible and invaluable contribution to our company, our people, our clients and our industry over his nearly 40 years of dedicated and selfless service. Jimmy was a master of his craft, but he was so much more – he was an incomparable force of nature. To all who had the honor of knowing him, he will be sorely missed. We love you Jimmy.” -- Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan CEO.
“He was very charismatic and very charming. And you know, he reinvented himself a bunch of times over the years. Which also is what I loved about Jimmy.” -- Paul Taubman, CEO of PJT Partners.
“He had the ability to attract lots of followers and supporters. And he really did it by force of his convictions and force of his magnetic personality ... He was witty, he was a very strong personality and it was always fun.” -- Roger Altman, founder of merger-advisory firm Evercore Partners Inc., said on Bloomberg Television.
“Jimmy was like the football player that was just a little bit slower than a lot people on the team, a little bit smaller than most of the team, but just had more heart than anyone else on the team by far. It really was his heart that carried Jimmy...Bankers have a lot to atone for, and bankers have come under a lot of criticism over the last couple of years. If you wanted to know why people should trust bankers, they should’ve known Jimmy Lee.” -- Jes Staley, managing partner at BlueMountain Capital and former JPMorgan investment-banking chief.
“His e-mails to me had a big theme: You had to be a warrior. I must have gotten 50 e-mails just saying the word, ‘Warrior.’ And another 50 saying, ‘Warrior today.’ Sometimes all caps. Sometimes while I was presenting in a meeting.” -- Tim Main, Evercore senior managing director and former JPMorgan banker.
“Jimmy loved Wall Street more than anyone I’ve ever known. He wasn’t driven by money or deals but by his passion for people. There was no more loyal friend to be had on Wall Street, nor anyone whose wise counsel I valued more.” -- Dan Loeb, CEO of Third Point.
Lee had “an intense desire to prove himself. Jimmy with all his stuff had a little thing burning in him: Was he a big leaguer? He always wanted to prove that he was really good despite all of the recognition he had and success he had. It was never something that he quite believed about himself.” -- Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric, whom Lee once described as a mentor.
“Jimmy was my friend first and my banker second. He always took an interest in people -– his Irish curiosity and his leprechaun smile put people at ease, and his genuine focus on individuals for who they are separated him from many others, not just in financial services but in life in general... I know that I will think of Jimmy often. I will ask myself, ‘What would Jimmy say? What would Jimmy do?’’ But I also know he will live on in all of the lucky souls still on this planet that had the opportunity to know him and call him a friend.” -- Maggie Wilderotter, executive chairman, Frontier Communications Corp.
“The biggest thing was watching how he worked. People first. Billion dollar deals on a handshake. Completely trustworthy.” -- Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape and venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.
“He was a giant in our industry. What distinguished Jimmy was not just his exceptional talent, but his passion for delivering results for his clients.” -- Alan Schwartz, executive chairman of Guggenheim Partners.
“Jimmy was a unique individual who was constantly figuring out new financing sources. He built lasting relationships unlike almost any banker I have ever known.” -- Henry Kravis, co-chairman of KKR & Co.
“It’s a sad day for Wall Street. Jimmy Lee was a formidable competitor who commanded respect.” -- Raymond McGuire, global head of corporate and investment banking at Citigroup Inc., who went up against Lee in deals involving Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. and Time Warner Inc.
“He just had this ability to get things done. He would convince you in a very thoughtful way that it was the right thing to do and he’d convince you that he could get it done for you. If you had a tough deal to get financed, Jimmy would be the best dealmaker on Wall Street.” -- Bill Harrison, former JPMorgan chairman and CEO.
“Jimmy Lee is in my judgment one of the most outstanding bankers.” -- Dan Lufkin, co-founder of investment bank Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.
“World class in all ways and always.” -- Mario Gabelli, chairman and CEO of Gamco Investors Inc., said on Twitter.
“I go back to when the private-equity people needed Jimmy. You had to have Jimmy, then, in a deal. He figured out how to syndicate debt, and that fundamentally changed the debt market.” -- Richard I. Beattie, senior chairman of law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP.
“If you had to point to the founding fathers of leveraged finance it would be Jimmy Lee and Michael Milken. There was no syndicated, non-investment grade loan market until Jimmy created it.” -- Richard Farley, a partner in law firm Paul Hastings LLP’s leveraged-finance group.
“Jimmy was a great banker, a tireless mentor and, not the least, everyone’s favorite golfing partner. Most importantly, he was a true friend to so many of us throughout his career. He will be sorely missed and our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Beth, and their daughter and two sons.” -- Michael Bloomberg, former New York mayor, founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.
“Jimmy Lee was a deal-maker extraordinaire with unparalleled judgment. He exemplified doing business with a handshake, with his word being his bond. He was a tremendous innovator and leader earning a place among Wall Street’s legends for future generations to revere and admire.” -- Egon Durban, managing partner and managing director at Silver Lake Partners, said in an e-mail.
“In life and in business, Jimmy Lee was a giant. He was a true gentleman, and he lived his life with grace, honor and unconditional love for others. Nothing mattered more to Jimmy than his family and the relationships he built around the world.” -- Joe Tsai, co-founder of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., said in a statement.