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JPMorgan could lose $5 billion from PIIGS exposure: report

Specialists and traders work at the JP Morgan stall on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange
Specialists and traders work at the JP Morgan stall on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

MILAN (Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co could lose up to $5 billion from its exposure to Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain, Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said in an interview with Class CNBC, carried in Italian newspaper Milano Finanza on Saturday.

Dimon said the bank was exposed to the five countries (PIIGS) to the tune of around $15 billion.

"We fear we could lose up to $5 billion ... We hope the worst won't happen, but even if it did happen, I wouldn't be pulling my hair out," he said.

Dimon said Europe was the worst problem for the banking sector.

"But the EU and euro are solid even if the states will have to be financially responsible and do all they can to develop common social policies," he said.

Dimon said the recent extraordinary liquidity measures taken by the European Central Bank had been a good move.

"Banks will have to have more capital and sell assets, but at least they have liquidity," he said.

Asked about the U.S. Federal Reserve's bank stress tests, which will come out in March, Dimon said his bank would pass.

"I hope the test shows American banks, perhaps with one or two exceptions, are very well capitalized, indeed too much," he said.

Dimon said JPMorgan had bought back shares last year for $8 billion. "I hope in 2012 we will do more or less the same."

Asked if the bank could take advantage of the problems facing Europe's banks and buy assets, he said, "we have already bought some assets and would like to possess others."

(Reporting By Stephen Jewkes, editing by Jane Baird)

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