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Credit Suisse pinpoints opportunity in Japan

Losses from sub-prime-related securities have forced many foreign investment banks to think twice about their ambitions for Japan. However, some lower-profile foreign franchises sense an opportunity to strike while rivals are wavering or cutting back. Credit Suisse’s Japan head of investment banking, Andrew Brownfield, thinks his firm is well positioned to make such a move. Lawrence White reports.

Andrew Brownfield, Credit Suisse

"Independent firms definitely have a strong selling point but we can differentiate ourselves in a number of areas as well"

Andrew Brownfield, Credit Suisse

THERE’S NO AIR of smugness about the way he says it: Kaoru Koyano, head of M&A at Credit Suisse in Japan, is merely offering an honest assessment of the unique opportunity that has been presented to him and his firm: "Our company is positioned very well at the moment, since we are relatively intact from the sub-prime problem. Goldman Sachs and ourselves are, I think, the only major Wall Street firms yet to announce substantial headcount reductions. We are pretty bullish about our investment banking business in Japan." With the Nikkei stock index apparently stuck in gradual but consistent decline, the number of IPOs down over 60% year on year, and the economy’s growth glacial rather than explosive, it would be easy to neglect Japan in favour of more headline-grabbing markets such as India and China. But the country is for now still the world’s second-biggest economy, and the attempts of global banking powerhouses such as HSBC and Citi to establish large branch networks in Japan this year suggest that it is still viewed as a land of opportunity by decision-makers at the top.