FIVE years on from the financial crisis, Nomura wants Asian companies to know that it is back on track to do some serious business.

Not that the Japanese bank had been derailed by the crisis.

On the contrary, Nomura seized the opportunity in 2008 to scoop up the Asian and European operations of collapsed Lehman Brothers.

But since then, it has had the unenviable task of meshing the acquired business into its existing operations, a task made all the more complex as the industry also changed drastically at the same time.

"Acquiring Lehman was a huge leap for Nomura, but after that, the takeover regulations and market structures changed significantly," said Nomura's chief executive officer of wholesale banking, Mr Tetsu Ozaki.

"So until now, we had to focus some of our efforts on internal restructuring and optimisation. But now we are 100 per cent focused on our clients."

Mr Ozaki was speaking to The Straits Times on the sidelines of the Nomura Investment Forum Asia here on June 4.

The restructuring efforts have resulted in Nomura merging its equity and fixed income divisions into one global markets unit.

And this unit, together with the investment banking business, comes under the umbrella of wholesale banking.

Mr Ozaki, who was appointed to head this newly meshed division just over a month ago, said he hopes to see Nomura capturing more business with this one-firm approach.

It helps that the timing is right. Abenomics, the reforms unveiled last year by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, include incentives for Japanese firms investing abroad, and have motivated many companies to do just that.

And many of these firms are using Singapore as their base for expanding into the rest of the region, Mr Ozaki noted.

"I think you can feel the spirit of Japanese enterprise more strongly in Singapore than in Japan these days," he quipped.

"Japanese companies know that if you are here in Singapore, you can go big."

Furthermore, a lot of cross-border deals are managed out of Singapore.

"A lot of Japanese money is flowing out of Japan to fund Asian infrastructure and these deals are often backed by Singapore fund managers."

That makes Singapore an important outpost for Nomura, which wants to get a bigger slice of all that action. The office here is its second biggest in Asia outside Japan.

With that presence, Nomura has the capacity to take on deals beyond those presented by Japanese clients too, Mr Ozaki added.

Most recently, the bank was an adviser to the reverse takeover bid of Hankore Environment by China Everbright, a deal that would create China's largest wastewater firm.

But the path ahead is not without challenges, most dauntingly internal ones, Mr Ozaki said. While the one-firm approach makes Nomura more efficient and helps it to offer more comprehensive services to its clients, it is not easy to get everyone on board.

"Some people think more about themselves than the firm," he said.

"But after all the tremendous work we have done in the past five years, I think we're now in a good position to enhance cross-border and cross-divisional collaboration."

Indeed, Nomura is at a historical turning point, Mr Ozaki added.

"If we can implement this strategy well, we can take the business to the next level."


A lot of Japanese money is flowing out of Japan to fund Asian infrastructure and these deals are often backed by Singapore fund managers.

- Nomura's chief executive officer of wholesale banking Tetsu Ozaki, adding that this makes Singapore an important outpost for the bank