Should we be surprised? Perhaps not. Late last week word leaked out that two of Robert Flemings most senior figures were set to leave Chase JP Morgan at the end of the year.
Former Robert Fleming chief executive, William Garrett and former Jardine Fleming boss, Henry Strutt, announced that with the successful integration of JF, Flemings and Chase, they would step down from the firm in early 2001.
From the Asian perspective, Strutt is the more significant figure. A long time resident of the region, he took over Jardine Fleming in 1995. It was a difficult period that saw profits fall in each consecutive year but in many respects this proved an enormous boon to the Fleming family which thus persuaded the Keswicks of Jardine Matheson to merge the 50/50 JV with Robert Fleming on very good terms.
With JF finally merged with Robert Fleming, buyers for the whole business began to emerge. Chase eventually won, and the rest is history.
At the time of the merger, Strutt had gone to London to run the European securities business with Bernard Taylor. After the reorganization, Taylor got control of Europe.
However, Strutt and Garrett are both leaving on very good terms and with a healthy bank balance. At the time of the merger, Garrett had an interest in half a million Robert Fleming shares and Strutt had around 400,000. Assuming a basic strike price of ú7 ($10.15), and given Chases acquisition at ú27 a share, this has left Garrett with ú10 million and Strutt with ú8 million.
It is not clear whether the two will join another firm, but this is a possibility. After all, Tim Freshwater Strutts successor at the helm of JF has just emerged as chairman of Goldman Sachs investment banking business in Asia.