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JPM Ditches M&A, Favors Organic Growth

Jamie Dimon says any sort of significant acquisition is

In 2013, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) will have to grow "organically and meet a wave of our regulatory demands," CEO Jamie Dimon said at a Feb. 26 event.

Dimon added that any sort of significant acquisition is "off the table" for the year. "If we accomplish those two things, we'll be in great shape," he told a crowd of almost 250 investors and reporters gathered at the bank's headquarters in New York.

After six hours of presentations by Dimon and his recently reorganized leadership team, executives were largely upbeat as they unveiled several plans for eventual, if slow, growth in the bank's diverse business lines.

"My guess is four years from now we make a lot more money," Dimon said.

The bank is also balancing its desire to get even more business from wealthy customers with the shrinking foot traffic to physical locations. More customers are using ATMs and technology, including mobile and online banking, to do business that once would have brought them into a branch. But even with the diminished foot traffic, JPM is actually planning to add about 100 branches annually, net, for the next two years. It currently uses its 5,600 physical locations for more complicated services to wealthy customers.

The annual investor meeting was an attempt at a sort of fresh start for JPM and its leader, after a year of fallout from its $6 billion trading loss. The London Whale affair led to a round of regulatory scrutiny, Congressional hearings and senior leadership departures in the past several months.

The event was also a public debut for Marianne Lake, JPM's new chief financial officer, who gave the first presentation.

JPM used the day to announce a new partnership with Visa (NYSE:V), which will allow the bank to negotiate directly with merchants over how they process payments on Chase credit and debit cards. "It will enable Chase to build direct relationships with merchants and to negotiate pricing," says Eileen Serra, the CEO of JPM's card services unit.

The deal appears to be a bid by JPM to gain more control over the processing of payments on its credit and debit cards. Executives also framed the partnership as an attempt to help improve its dealings with the retail industry, which has long protested the prices it must pay in order to accept credit and debit cards.

Visa CEO Charlie Scharf, a longtime JPM executive and Dimon protégé who took over the card network in November, has said that he is trying to expand the industry's "flexibility" and improve its relationship with merchants.

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