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Abigail Hofman: Leaving Nomura

Sid Prasad worked at Nomura before he joined Merrill Lynch. I have been keeping my eye on Nomura since I met with Sadeq Sayeed, the chief executive of the EMEA operation, last August. Before that meeting, I wrote in my June 2009 column: "It is conceivable that the Lehman acquisition might turn out to be an expensive mistake for the Japanese... I always worry when loyalty is purchased with hefty guarantees." Indeed now, as the last tranche of the guarantees given in 2008 is paid, Nomura is suffering significant defections by former Lehman staff such as Siggi Thorkelsson, head of equities in Asia; Thomas Siegmund, co-head of fixed income in the region; and Jane Wang, vice-chairman of China investment banking. Indeed, every day another senior resignation seems to hit the screen. In mid-March, it was announced that Sayeed himself would be "retiring" from Nomura. No immediate successor was named, which led me to believe that there was an odour of huff about the parting. The following day we learnt that Nomura was forming a new global wholesale division that would be run by Jesse Bhattal, the former head of Lehman in Asia. Bhattal will be based in Hong Kong and will join Nomura’s executive management board. A commentator opined: "Sayeed lost out to Bhattal. Bhattal’s appointment is a sop to the Lehman people who are all threatening to leave now that they have been paid." I look forward to catching up with Bhattal whom I have not seen for many years. However, I believe he has a huge challenge ahead of him: he needs to forge a focused strategy, develop an expertise where Nomura truly excels and decide what to do about the lack of a US platform.

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