(Reuters) - T. Rowe Price Group Inc Chief Investment Officer Brian Rogers backed keeping JPMorgan Chase & Co's Jamie Dimon in his dual roles of chairman and chief executive, offering valuable support from a top shareholder as a key governance vote at the bank approaches next week.
In an emailed statement on Thursday, Rogers said that "I fully support the combined chairman and CEO role at J.P. Morgan under the superb leadership of Jamie Dimon."
"He and his management team have created superior shareholder value after the company weathered the financial crisis so capably," said Rogers, a classmate of Dimon at Harvard Business School.
The comments mark a rare public stance by a big mutual fund company. Other top JPMorgan shareholders, including Vanguard Group Inc, State Street Corp and Fidelity Investments, so far have declined to comment on how they will vote at JPMorgan's annual meeting on May 21.
Shareholders will vote on a closely-watched measure urging Dimon's dual leadership roles be separated as a matter of good corporate governance.
Baltimore asset manager T. Rowe Price owns about 81 million shares of JPMorgan, making it one of the bank's top ten holders according to data from Thomson Reuters' Thomson One service. JPMorgan has 3.8 billion shares outstanding according to its latest quarterly regulatory filing.
A spokesman for T. Rowe Price said Rogers was speaking only for the roughly 23 million shares of JPMorgan held in funds he manages and that other shares will be voted by managers of other T. Rowe Price funds.
The spokesman said Rogers would not grant interviews or elaborate on his decision to speak out.
Last year, T. Rowe funds also voted in favor of keeping Dimon in both jobs.
(Reporting By Ross Kerber in Boston and David Henry in New York; Editing by Maureen Bavdek and Tim Dobbyn)