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Banking

Nomura’s great leap forward: Will Lehman takeover help fulfil its global ambitions?

The acquisition of the European and Asian arms of Lehman Brothers means that the Japanese firm is now the world’s largest independent investment bank. The deal shocked many who had expected a western buy-out. Lawrence White speaks to Takumi Shibata and Sadeq Sayeed, the architects of the deal.

The race to sell Lehman Brothers before it fell apart
Nomura in Europe: the appointments so far

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"I WANTED TO pay exactly one quid [£1] but my arm was twisted, and we rounded up to $2," says Sadeq Sayeed. Something in his voice betrays the astonishment he must feel about the deal: these days that wouldn’t buy you a ticket on the London underground, a beer or most Sunday newspapers but it is what Nomura paid for the European and Middle East operations of Lehman Brothers, the failed US investment bank.

Sayeed, who will head the new Nomura Europe, was, together with Nomura COO Takumi Shibata, responsible for the Japanese firm’s victory in the negotiations for Lehman’s European and Asian businesses and he has emerged with his reputation as a dealmaker much enhanced. His negotiating style is apparently on the reserved side: recent interviews have described him as "quiet" and "taciturn".

"My friends were more shocked by that description than I was," says Sayeed, "I don’t think they think of me as being particularly quiet."

Sayeed speaks warmly of the round-the-clock work his staff at Nomura’s London headquarters put in between Lehman going into administration on September 15 after the collapse of talks with Bank of America and Barclays, and the eventual purchase by Nomura of the US firm’s European and Asian businesses after lengthy simultaneous negotiations in London and Hong Kong over the weekend of the 20th and 21st.

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