Abigail with attitude: Nomura’s latest missteps and the exit of Vereker

Abigail Hofman
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One institution that probably wouldn’t even make the fall-back list for our hypothetical graduate is Nomura. I have written at length about the missteps at the Japanese firm. However, even I was taken aback to read that Italian prosecutors tried to seize some €1.8 billion of assets from Nomura as part of a probe into Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena’s use of derivatives to hide losses.

Apparently, Sadeq Sayeed, a former European head at Nomura, and Raffaele Ricci, a managing director in fixed-income sales, are also being investigated for colluding to obstruct regulators. The allegations centre on derivatives transactions undertaken in 2009. Nomura, Sayeed and Ricci all deny the allegations.

Is it any wonder that William Vereker, Nomura’s previous co-head of investment banking, is scuttling out of the firm as fast as his legs can carry him? In mid-April, it was announced that Vereker would be joining UBS. Vereker, who took up the post of vice-chairman of Nomura’s investment banking operation in London last autumn, will join UBS as head of corporate client solutions for Europe.

This was a bit of a surprise as this seat was already occupied by David Soanes, the loyal (maybe too loyal?) UBS staffer. Soanes is being shuffled off to lead a new unit focusing on clients in the financial services industry. It has been an open secret since last September that Vereker was keen to escape the Nomura mantle, almost as soon as he accepted the dreaded vice-chairman title. But I doubt that wily William will find the going easy at UBS, which is definitely an organization in transition under his former Merrill Lynch colleagues, Sergio Ermotti and Andrea Orcel.

Soanes has had a wide variety of jobs during the past 20 years, under a host of different regimes, at UBS. Soanes may be a chameleon, an astute corporate politician and a good banker. But perhaps he needs to cut the umbilical cord and move from the Swiss firm. You can only change seats so many times on the same bus.