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Banking

Nomura confronts the ghosts of its past

One year after its humiliating withdrawal from European equities, Nomura’s international businesses are humming. The Japanese firm is set to expand in emerging markets and in the US, while pivoting towards a bigger presence in risk, particularly credit risk. But it still faces its age-old conundrum: outside Japan, it is too big to be a boutique, but not big enough to be a global bulge-bracket investment bank. Can Nomura find a fitting new position as the entire industry restructures?

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Nomura is the global investment bank that the rest of the world forgot. The Japanese firm still declares its mission is to connect markets East and West. But ask global business heads at leading US and European banks about their Japanese rival and eyes tend to go blank, brows to furrow and lips almost to smile. 

“Nomura? Well, obviously, I mean, yes… they’re big in Japan,” the global head of investment banking at one US firm tells Euromoney, before glancing quizzically at his head of Europe. “That’s right, isn’t it?”

It is easy to understand his surprise that Euromoney should even ask. Take a glance at the GlobalCapital dashboard of Dealogic league table positions for Nomura and there are many where a firm that had credible pretensions to a place in the global bulge bracket 20 years ago and that still harboured hopes of such a position 10 years ago, now regularly ranks in the mid-teens and low 20s.

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