Can Ujiie clean up Nomura?
New president Junichi Ujiie says he wants to introduce radical change to clean up and modernize Nomura Securities. If he succeeds, the Japanese house could pick itself up from its recent scandal and bounce back to become a global financial power-house. But first Ujiie must halt the bloody factional infighting that marred the term of his predecessor, Hideo Sakamaki, and wipe out the pernicious influence of two former presidents, the Tabuchis. Garry Evans reports.
On the evening of April 14, the chairman of Nomura Securities, Masashi Suzuki, summoned Junichi Ujiie to his office on the second floor of Nomura's headquarters in Nihonbashi. Out of the blue, Suzuki offered Ujiie - a relatively junior managing director, who only 10 months earlier had returned to Tokyo after seven years in the US - the position of president of the company. "You're the only one who can do this," said Suzuki.
Suzuki believed Ujiie was the only person who could rescue Nomura from the brink of disaster. A month earlier, on March 14, Nomura's then-president, Hideo Sakamaki had been forced to resign after the company admitted making illegal payments of ¥50 million to sokaiya, gangster-linked groups who threaten to upset companies' annual shareholders' meetings. Nomura had been found guilty of a similar offence in 1991.
Over the next four weeks, matters had got worse. Major clients - from Tokyo Electric to Calpers - began to cut ties with Nomura. The ministry of finance (MoF) threatened to punish Nomura by stopping it doing business for as long as six months.