JPMorgan Chase & Co's co-chief executives of its investment bank have been replaced by Jes Staley, current head of the No. 2 U.S. bank's asset management unit, possibly putting him in a position to succeed CEO Jamie Dimon.

With the credit crisis largely behind us and the economy recovering, the timing was right to begin the succession process, Dimon said in a statement Tuesday.

Staley, 53, who joined the bank in 1979, returns to the investment banking unit after stints at JPMorgan's private bank and asset management operation.

JPMorgan said Bill Winters, 48, co-CEO of investment banking, is leaving the company. The other co-CEO, Steve Black, 57, becomes executive chairman of the investment bank to oversee the transition to Staley as CEO.

Staley will report to Black during a transition period until the end of 2010, the bank said.

Mary Callahan Erdoes, 42, chief executive of JPMorgan's private bank, succeeds Staley as head of asset management.

Winters and Black were deeply involved in the acquisition and integration of Bear Stearns Cos. Both are long-time JPMorgan employees.


Dimon, 53, is largely regarded as a star on Wall Street who has led JPMorgan through face-changing acquisitions, including Bear Stearns and failed Seattle thrift Washington Mutual last year.

Investors said they would be surprised to see Dimon exit in the near term. But they said preparing a succession plan is broadly a positive step for the bank.

This is good management and good forward thinking on Jamie Dimon's part, said Richard Lipstein, managing director at Boyden Global Executive Search in New York.

JPMorgan shares were up 12 cents to $44.93 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Elinor Comlay; Editing by Derek Caney and John Wallace)