Edward D. Miller Steered Two Giant Bank Mergers

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Brooklyn ex-Marine, who has died aged 80, helped combine Manny Haney, Chemical, and Chase

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Mr. Miller played a central role in consolidating some of the country’s largest banks following the 1991 merger of Manny Haney and Chemical Banking and the 1995 merger of those banks and Chase Manhattan. He was the senior vice president of the new Chase, which is now part of JPMorgan Chase & Co.

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He credits his early studies in engineering with teaching how to develop processes rather than relying on improvisation. That said, the Marines taught him how to create teamwork among a diverse group of people thrown together in stressful situations.

Mr. Miller died on September 26 at his home in Jupiter, Fla. He was 80 years old and was undergoing treatment for cancer.

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He compared the merger to Noah’s ark: there were two of everything, and the trick was to stick with the better half of each pair.

Of the merger, he told Chase’s colleagues in 1997, “You have ambiguity, you have mistrust, you have self-preservation…. Has everything.”

As a Young Executive at American Express Co.

, Kenneth Chenault met Mr. Miller in the 1980s and was impressed by his understanding of the credit-card business. In 2003, a few years after Mr. Chenault became chief executive of American Express, he inducted Mr. Miller to the company’s board. “He is one of the unsung heroes of financial services,” said Mr Chenault.

Edward Daniel Miller was born on 8 November 1940 in Brooklyn, where his family lived in an apartment house. “It was gangs, zip guns and leather jackets,” he wrote of his neighborhood in a memoir. “It was criminals, drug addicts and juvenile delinquents.” On the plus side, there was also stickball and hockey on roller skates.

His father, an immigrant from Lithuania, repaired wristwatches. In school, young Ed benefited from a good memory and his mother’s encouragement to read. “I was one of those kids who could scan a few pages of a textbook, figure out the essentials and spit it back on an exam,” he wrote. That talent led him to the prestigious Brooklyn Technical High School.

Fearing that his engineering studies at Brooklyn College would lead to a job at a drawing board, he undressed in a garment wholesaler’s showroom and made clothes for a period of time, an experience that led him to a lifelong habit of dressing meticulously. helped create.

In 1962, he got a banking job matching cash checks to Manny Haney. Still unsure of his direction in life, he signed up for the Marines and escaped boot camp in Paris Island, SC, where he accepted the harassment of drill instructors as required theatrics. He spent a year on active duty and then went into reserve as a lance corporal.

Back at Manny Haney, he learned to analyze potential borrowers by day and studied business at Pace University in the evening. He met Carol Murray, who was studying at the American Institute of Banking. They married in 1969.

When he was sent to help run a credit-card business, he found that the cards were mailed to people regardless of their credit history. Meanwhile, “cards were being stolen from post offices or mailboxes at an alarming rate,” he later wrote. “Anyone can take the card and use it.”

He improved the screening process and returned the business to profitability. His bosses rewarded him with increasing responsibilities for consumer finance, mortgages and technology.

In the 1980s, defaults by Latin American borrowers weakened Manny Haney. Mr. Miller supported the idea of ​​a merger with another bank. The chemical’s headquarters was conveniently across the street from Manny Haney’s head office on Park Avenue. Miller’s work in consolidating the two large banks and cutting costs, partly due to the merger received support on Wall Street.

Don Kerr, advisor to Booze, Allen & Hamilton, later told the New York Times, “It worked because Ed Miller is a very organized and disciplined guy, and he had a plan as your arm and he worked against it.” “

Mr. Miller became the chairman of United Bank, then known as Chemical. Within a few years, in the midst of a wave of consolidation in American banking, Chemical was again keen on a major transaction and paired with the struggling Chase, whose posh name stood for United Bank after agreeing to the merger.

Walter Shipley emerged as chief executive of the new Chase, and Miller was given the vague position of senior vice president. “I wanted to be the man in charge, not the number 2 guy,” wrote Mr. Miller. “In the chase, I was stuck in the waiting room.” After leaving Chase in 1997, France’s AXA Group appointed him as chief executive of its US branch, which included equitable insurance, fund management and investment-banking operations. During his four years in that job, he inspired insurance salespeople to offer a variety of financial products.

Mr. Miller was on the boards of a variety of nonprofits, including the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America and the New York City Police Foundation. He was also a supporter of the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation.

His survivors include his wife, Carol Miller, a son, Dean Miller, and seven grandchildren. Another son, Scott Miller, died in 2009.

Friends recalled Mr. Miller’s habit of meeting almost everyone he met. “He wanted to connect with people and find common ground around family, friends, schools, things you were interested in,” said Michael Hegarty, a friend and former colleague.

James R. Hagerty at [email protected]

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