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BANKING

Investment banking: Can Nomura’s Lehman buy make the firm a force in Asia?

Is the new Nomura a threat to the dominant investment banks in the Asia-Pacific region?

Nomura deputy president Takumi Shibata

Nomura deputy president Takumi Shibata is said to be the brains behind the Lehman acquisition

When Nomura’s new chief executive, Kenichi Watanabe, wrote in the firm’s annual report this year that it would "invest aggressively in markets with prospects for future growth", neither he nor his readers back in March could have guessed that the bank would be the owner of the Asian and European investment banking units of Lehman Brothers just six months later. What does the acquisition mean for Nomura?

The bank beat Barclays and Standard Chartered in the bidding for Lehman’s Asian and EMEA units on the strength of its proposal to take on all of the US firm’s employees. In Asia-Pacific, Nomura will take on 3,000 Lehman employees across 11 offices in eight countries: it is this human capital that the Japanese firm is interested in, and its ability to retain and successfully deploy that capital will decide the fate of its attempt to build an Asia-based global investment banking firm.

Nomura is regarded as the dominant (indeed the only) independent domestic investment bank inside Japan, and as a minnow outside the country.