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Simon Fry, Managing director of international markets division, Nomura

When foreign investment banks made $250 million on an erroneously priced Italian postal bond issue last year, the then chairman of Nomura's London office, Hitoshi Tonomura, was all set to follow CSFB's example and return Nomura's profit - thought to have been around $50 million.

He phoned his chief trader Simon Fry to let him know. Fry protested vehemently, saying the trade was worth far more than any future relationship with the Italian government. Next came a sound of tapping on the other end of the phone as a calculator went to work. "Alright," said Fry, apparently relenting. "Give it back. But I still want my bonus." Tonomura changed his mind, Nomura kept the money.

Though possibly apocryphal, this story demonstrates Fry's awesome reputation for shrewdness and tough bargaining. He has made a name as one of the smartest traders in mispriced fixed-income securities, and one of the hardest bargainers in the business. Few bankers, even at the high-rolling US banks, have managed to negotiate such advantageous performance contracts - the gossip is that Fry's profit share at Nomura became so expensive his employers were forced to buy him out of it.

Tall, silver-haired, with a penetrating not-to-be-trifled with gaze, Fry is not fond of publicity (he declined to be interviewed) but neither is he particularly discreet when it comes to spending money.

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