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Nomura back in hiring mode for US bankers after cutting costs

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Nomura Holdings Chief Operating Officer, Tetsu Ozaki. Nomura Holdings Inc plans to hire bankers in the US, resuming a push to boost investment-banking business in a market that remains a priority for Japan's biggest brokerage following a round of cost cuts.

[TOKYO] Nomura Holdings Inc plans to hire bankers in the US, resuming a push to boost investment-banking business in a market that remains a priority for Japan's biggest brokerage following a round of cost cuts.

The Tokyo-based firm anticipates rising volumes of mergers and stock offerings in the US, said chief operating officer Tetsu Ozaki, who is seeking bankers to cover industries including technology, consumer and pharmaceuticals. While the brokerage has no clear numerical target, it has room to recruit 20, Mr Ozaki said in an interview on Aug 15.

His remarks reflect Nomura's strategy to selectively tap opportunities for growth in the world's biggest investment-banking market, even as it shrinks in areas such as equity research and leveraged finance.

Chief executive officer Koji Nagai this year began eliminating jobs and shutting businesses in Europe and the Americas to save about US$700 million and stem six years of losses abroad.

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At the same time, he is seeking to regain lost ground in cross-border mergers advice as Japanese companies increasingly look overseas for growth.

"There are tremendous business opportunities for M&A and currency hedging in the Americas," said Mr Ozaki, 58, who took the post in a management shuffle in April.

"Our clients will pay closer attention to the region over the next five to 10 years."

Nomura bolstered its oversight of the Americas in April with the appointment of Tsutomu Takemura as joint head of the region alongside existing chief David Findlay. Mr Takemura, formerly co-head of investment banking in Europe and currently one of the youngest senior managing directors, has a "big mission" to recruit bankers, Mr Ozaki said.

Mr Ozaki is reviving the hiring plans after Nomura posted its biggest pretax profit abroad in seven years for the quarter ended June 30, driven in part by fixed-income revenue from the US.

Global investment banking chief Kentaro Okuda outlined the firm's ambitions to hire bankers in the US in an interview in December, before investment banks globally had one of the worst quarters in years in what CEO Nagai described as a "rainstorm".

Nomura will seek to provide mergersadvice to mid-sized US companies - those with a market value of less than US$10 billion - and work on more cross-border deals involving Japanese firms, Mr Ozaki said.

It also wants to manage more equity offerings and provide strategies for currency hedging for acquisitions, he said.

In Japan, Nomura has boosted the number of M&A bankers by about 10 per cent to 15 per cent since April to handle more cross- border transactions, Mr Ozaki said, declining to disclose the headcount. In the Americas, it hired six investment bankers last year and added more than 30 junior staff. That's after it recruited 15 senior bankers there in 2014.

Nomura was ranked third among financial advisers on mergers involving Japanese companies in the first half, data compiled by Bloomberg show. It hasn't held the top position since 2011 after missing out on large deals between Japan and the US, such as Suntory Holdings Ltd's US$15.6 billion purchase of Beam Inc in 2014. The brokerage was 14th on cross-border transactions in the six months, according to the data.

Its ranking in the US has also slipped. Nomura was 55th among merger advisers there in the first half, compared with 42nd for all of 2015, the data show.

"League-table rankings show how a securities firm is trusted over the long term, and we're always conscious of that, especially for Japan-related M&A," Mr Ozaki said.

"All we can do to raise clients' satisfaction is keep striving to improve."

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