John O’Connor has left JPMorgan Partners, but he did not go quietly.
The partner had been engaged in breakup talks for months, but was aparently caught off guard earlier this year when told that he should pack up his office and leave the bank’s New York headquarters for good.
Not one to take ultimatums lightly, O’Connor began shouting in the hallways and threw some objects out of his office, according to knowledgable sources who asked to remain anonymous.
Things got so heated that building security was called in, and junior employees were given the rest of the day off.
O’Connor was traveling in Florida last week, and declined to comment on his departure. JPMP also declined to comment, citing confidentiality concerns.
Sources familiar with the situation, however, say that O’Connor’s break with JPMP was a long time coming.
He had been with the firm in its various incarnations for 17 years, and most recently was active in its mezzanine debt practice and served on the investment committee of Octagon Credit Investors, which provides leveraged loans and high-yield securities.
Such activities were lauded in the 1990s when JPMP (then known as Chase Capital Partners) was trying to corner every inch of the private equity market.
A shift in strategy came in early 2002 when JPMP was struggling to raise its first third-party fund.
The original fund size target was $13 billion, and prospective limited partners accused JPMP of lacking focus. The group’s response was to focus on buyouts, with a smaller concentration on venture capital. Mezzanine and Octagon would remain, but in far diminished capacities.
“John basically had no mission anymore,” explains a former JPMP employee. “Everything had either been reassigned or just wasn’t considered very important anymore.”
Other JPMP Changes
O’Connor is not the only JPMP partner to have left recently.
Mitchell Blutt, once thought to be in line to succeed managing partner Jeffrey Walker, is now serving in a part-time executive advisor role. His official retirement dinner was held last week, although he began reducing his workload nearly one year ago. Blutt is maintaining three JPMP board seats and is regularly consulted by Walker on firm management issues. He did not return a message requesting comment on this story.
Other imminent – and voluntary – departures on the partnership level include Andrew Kahn and Bob Ruggiero, while principal Kevin O’Brien also plans to leave. JPMP will continue to be overseen by its Group of Ten, which replaced an earlier management structure that listed Walker up top, with O’Connor, Blutt and Arnie Chavkin as executive partners.
The Group of Ten now includes Walker and partners Chavkin, Chris Behrens, Michael Hannon, Jonathan Meggs, Stephen Murray, Tim Purcell, Shahan Soghikian and Timothy Walsh.
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