JPMorgan announced on Friday the retirement of its Asia-Pacific chairman, Ralph Parks. The move was viewed in some quarters with surprise, since Parks had been given a new role as recently as July. It was at that time that the US bank had stated that Parks would ôfocus all his resources on clients and to develop strategic opportunities for JPMorgan in the region, including potential joint venturesö.

At that time Parks had stepped down as CEO, but retained the chairmanÆs role. He was replaced as CEO by Gaby Abdelnour, who was transferred by JPMorgan from its European operations.

Parks, who has 30 years of investment banking experience and was formerly with Goldman Sachs, joined JPMorgan in July 2000 and moved to Asia in April 2001 û where he combined the chairman and CEO roles.

In a written statement on Friday, Parks said: ôI retire from the firm at a time of unprecedented opportunity for growth from its strong base across the region. I offer JPMorgan my best wishes for continued prosperity.ö

It is reckoned that Parks will remain in Asia, and there is considerable speculation about what he might do next. Some predict he will take a senior role at a private equity firm, capitalising on his broad relationships around the region.

Abdelnour, meanwhile, has been conducting whistlestop tours throughout the region that he is now running, including to Japan. Indeed, it is reckoned that one of AbdelnourÆs key priorities will be to upgrade the performance of the firmÆs Japanese investment banking business.

A JPMorgan source said there are no immediate plans to install a new chairman in the wake of ParkÆs resignation.