Abigail Hofman: Foreshadowing Nomura’s fall
The firm might be stuck in the middle with nowhere to go: it is neither a global, bulge-bracket player nor a focused, low-cost, niche operator.
It was a surprising summer. Despite Mitt Romney’s misgivings, the London Olympics were a spectacular success. Despite being viewed as the acceptable face of banking, Standard Chartered tripped over its halo. And despite, once again, being tipped as the favourite chief executive in waiting, former JPMorgan banker Bill Winters failed to show up at the Barclays party.
This was also the summer when many of the chickens that the Abigail with attitude column has been husbanding came home to roost. Some of my morose musings and occasional dark prophecies have come to pass. I suppose I should feel triumphant. Instead, though, I feel irritated when I contemplate the hostility that I endured from fulsomely paid, but intellectually bankrupt, PR peons.
Let’s start with Nomura. Almost as soon as the ink was dry on its contract to purchase the Asian and European operations of Lehman Brothers in the autumn of 2008, I claimed the deal would never work and that the firm’s international expansion plans and ever-increasing cost base would end in savage restructuring. Although few other commentators were as unremittingly negative, everything I wrote came to pass: numerous metaphorical body bags were carted off. The supposed architect of the deal, Sadeq Sayeed, departed and senior managers, such as Jesse Bhattal, Takumi Shibata and