(Recasts, adds COO comments and details)
By Nathan Layne
TOKYO May 22 Japan's largest brokerage firm Nomura Holdings Inc said on Wednesday it was seeking partners to expand its retail and asset management operations in Southeast Asia and was in talks with several financial institutions in the region.
Chief Operating Officer Atsushi Yoshikawa did not name any specific companies but said Nomura would consider taking equity stakes as part of any alliance.
"The best situation would be a 100 percent stake but given various regulations that is probably not realistic," Yoshikawa told a briefing for analysts and media. "We could end up taking a minority stake or not take any stake at all."
Yoshikawa cited Thai brokerage Capital Nomura Securities PCL , in which Nomura holds a minority stake, as an example of a successful partnership.
Last month, Nomura reported its highest quarterly profit in seven years thanks to Japan's booming stock market, which has surged 50 percent this year on the back of the central bank's aggressive monetary easing and a sharp slide in the yen.
The brokerage on Wednesday increased its target for Japanese retail assets to 100 trillion yen by March 2016 after clearing its previous target of 90 trillion yen last month.
Nomura is about 80 percent through a $1 billion cost-cutting programme announced by CEO Koji Nagai in September. The cuts are focused on its equities and investment banking operations, with nearly half of the planned reductions in Europe.
Yoshikawa said Nomura was not planning to aggressively expand overseas but could hire additional sales staff to increase the distribution of its fixed income products and bolster its equities operations in Asia.
Nomura was also looking to add investment bankers to expand its coverage of the healthcare and technology sectors in the United States, Yoshikawa said.
($1 = 102.5450 Japanese yen) (Editing by Shinichi Saoshiro and Miral Fahmy)