* EMEA CEO says plans to hire senior bankers for Middle East
* Japanese bank sees growth opportunities in the region
* Nomura lost several top executives last year in region
By Dinesh Nair and Mirna Sleiman
ABU DHABI, Feb 28 Nomura Holdings,
Japan's largest investment bank, plans to revamp its Middle
Eastern operations after losing several top executives in the
past year, its regional head said.
Nomura has been cutting costs under Chief Executive Koji
Nagai, who took the helm last year in the wake of an insider
trading scandal. In August, the company announced plans to chop
an additional $1 billion in costs.
Some of its top bankers in Dubai, including the head of its
investment banking for Middle East and North Africa (MENA),
Scott Ferguson, left as part of the move.
The departures led to rumours in the banking community that
the bank was planning to shut down its business in the region.
"I am here to assure you that Nomura is here to say,"
Nomura's chief executive for Europe, Middle East and Africa John
Phizackerley told Reuters in an interview.
"One of the reasons I am here is that I am planning to
interview some senior candidates in Dubai tomorrow and we will
continue to grow in the region."
Big U.S. and European institutions slashed investment
banking jobs in the Middle East last year as the promise of
emerging markets was overshadowed by the need to cut costs and a
dearth of deal activity.
But investment banking activity is showing slow signs of
revival as financial markets pick up pace and global companies
resume expansion plans.
Mergers and acquisitions transactions with Middle Eastern
targets reached $20 billion during 2012, double the activity
seen in 2011, according to Thomson Reuters data. Fees from
advising clients totalled $157.9 million, a 23 percent increase.
The numbers are still low compared with the boom years of
2005-07 when banks earned multi-million dollar fees by advising
large institutions on acquisitions and structuring complicated
derivative transactions to finance them.
Phizackerley said the Middle East region was growing in
importance for the bank given the debt problems in the euro
zone, adding that he expected to increase business across
investment banking advisory, debt and equity capital markets.
"There is no doubt in my mind that this is an important
region for Nomura, it always has been and it will continue to be
and actually the truth is, at the moment, I am making some
hires," the banker said.
He declined to provide details on how many bankers the bank
was looking to hire but said a difficult investment banking
environment was making it easier to find talented employees.
"We have plenty of challenges in the investment banking
business but one of the opportunities we have is hiring talent
and I intend to capitalise on that here in the region," he said.
Nomura has traditionally been strong in capital markets
activities in the Middle East and derives most of its revenue
from derivatives and structured transactions.