J.P. Morgan's Dimon, other CEOs descend on Tokyo to rally troops

By @ibtimes on

JPMorgan Chase & Co boss Jamie Dimon and Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent were among top global executives to visit Tokyo this week to meet with local staff coping with the devastating earthquake and radiation panic that hit the city.

Also among the financial bigwigs making the trip is Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman, who held a town hall meeting with employees in Tokyo on Friday afternoon, to show the firm's commitment to the Japanese market, a spokesman said.

While the vast majority of the damage was felt from the deadly tsunami in the country's northeast, Tokyo is still reeling from the effects of the disaster as offices empty out and some foreign employees flee the country.

Dimon met with staff during his visit and asked for a moment of silence to remember the victims of the disaster, according to sources present at the meeting, who did not want to be identified.

The people of JP Morgan, in the U.S. and around the world, are thinking of Japan and know there will be a rapid rebuilding of the affected areas, the CEO said in an e-mail to staff seen by Reuters.

You may know that JP Morgan did raise capital to help rebuild Tokyo after the 1923 earthquake. We will do everything we can to help now, he said.

Dimon spent the following day visiting clients before flying out that evening, said one of the sources.

The world's No.3 economy remains a major market for many large U.S. and European companies, despite the attention given to growth in China and India during the last several years. Tokyo is a particularly key Asian market for Wall Street and European banks, drawn by its deep capital markets and millions of wealthy individuals.

The visits come amid some criticism of the Tokyo foreign residents who fled the country after the earthquake as the nuclear crisis worsened.

Some local critics of the Westerners who fled have coined the phrase fly-jins -- a play on the word gaijin, or foreigner -- to describe those who left.

Embassies from Austria and Australia to France and Switzerland advised their citizens to leave not only the areas closest to the damaged nuclear complex, but also the capital city Tokyo.

Several big Western banks saw large scale exits, with some trading desks inadequately staffed, according to industry sources.

The departures and the radiation fears that spread across the city have only added to the unease felt by Tokyo's business community since the quake, explaining in part why CEOs have decided to fly in person to the city to ensure staff of their support.

Coca-Cola's Kent flew in late on Wednesday with three other senior executives on a private jet, according to a spokesman. After a briefing on the impact to the company's operations, he held a meeting with staff and answered questions.

He met with local bottlers before flying out the next day.

Brian Moynihan, the chief executive of Bank of America Corporation, is also due to come to Tokyo in the near future, a spokesman said, although he declined to say when.

Nissan Motor Co Carlos Ghosn has met with workers at the Tochigi plant and will visit the earthquake-damaged Iwaki plant next week, a spokeswoman said.

At least four senior executives from Goldman Sachs Group visited last week, according to a spokeswoman. They included Michael Evans, the bank's head of emerging markets and Asia chairman, and Ed Forst, the co-head of its investment management division.

(Additional reporting by Tim Kelly, James Topham, Chang-Ran Kim, Mariko Katsumura and Ayai Tomisawa. Editing by Michael Flaherty and Joseph Radford)

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