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Mizuho Securities head Sakai to replace Sato as Group CEO

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Mizuho Financial Group Inc. named Tatsufumi Sakai to replace Yasuhiro Sato as chief executive officer, the first change at the helm of Japan's third-biggest banking group since 2011.

[TOKYO] Mizuho Financial Group Inc. named Tatsufumi Sakai to replace Yasuhiro Sato as chief executive officer, the first change at the helm of Japan's third-biggest banking group since 2011.

Mr Sakai, 58, currently head of its securities unit, will take the post on April 1, Mizuho said in a statement on Monday. He led the bank's international unit before taking the helm at the brokerage arm in 2016. Koichi Iida, 55, will take over as head of Mizuho Securities, and Mr Sato, 65, will become group chairman.

Mr Sakai inherits a bank whose financial performance has trailed behind Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. this year as the central bank's negative interest rate policy squeezes domestic loan margins and saps profitability. Like its bigger rivals, Mizuho is cutting costs - it plans to eliminate 19,000 positions over the next decade - and diversifying operations away from traditional lending.

"It's rare to see this type of reshuffle in Japan where the head of the brokerage becomes the CEO," Mitsushige Akino, an executive officer with Ichiyoshi Asset Management Co. "This illustrates the old-fashioned business of lending money from deposits is becoming less viable and it's becoming difficult to raise profit without shifting to securities business." Head After graduating from the University of Tokyo in 1984, Mr Sakai joined Industrial Bank of Japan Ltd., a predecessor of Mizuho. As a head of mergers and acquisitions at Mizuho, he advised on about 100 deals from 2002 to 2007. Among the transactions the firm worked on was SoftBank Group Corp.'s US$17.5 billion acquisition of Vodafone Group Plc's Japanese mobile-phone unit in 2006.

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Mr Sakai and Mr Sato will brief the press about the change at 4 p.m. in Tokyo, spokeswoman Masako Shiono said by telephone.

Mr Sato became CEO in June 2011. He oversaw the merger of the corporate and retail banking subsidiaries in 2013 as part of a vision to create "One Mizuho." He later stepped down as president of the combined lending unit, while remaining chief of the holding company, following a scandal over loans to crime groups.  Mizuho's profit fell 12 per cent to 316.6 billion yen (US$2.9 billion) in the first six months of the year ending March. Earnings at MUFG, the nation's biggest bank, rose 28 per cent and Sumitomo Mitsui's climbed 17 per cent.

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