January 23, 2013 / 3:25 AM / in 5 years

Former top Nomura Asia banker Bhattal joins Lazard

HONG KONG, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Veteran Asia deal maker Jesse Bhattal, the former head of Nomura Holdings Inc’s wholesale division who resigned a year ago amid an acrimonious restructuring, has joined investment bank Lazard Ltd as a senior adviser.

Bhattal, 56, who has a reputation as a hands-on manager and as a well-connected client man, will advise on clients and strategic initiatives internationally, focusing on the Asia-Pacific region.

The appointment is effective immediately.

“Jesse Bhattal is one of the most respected and accomplished dealmakers in the Asia Pacific region,” Lazard’s Chief Executive said in a statement.

“We are confident that his experience and relationships will benefit our clients in Lazard’s core businesses globally.”

Lazard finished 2012 as the 9th-ranked advisor globally for completed mergers and acquisitions according to Thomson Reuters data, but did not crack the top 25 for deals with any Asia (excluding Japan) involvement during the same period.

It did better in Australia, placing 4th in 2012 and 2011 for completed M&A deals, and in Japan where it ranked 16th last year.

Bhattal joined Nomura from Lehman Brothers, helping broker the Japanese bank’s takeover of its Asian operations, which he headed, during the 2008 financial crisis.

But he and trusted lieutenant Tarun Jotwani resigned last January after Nomura announced the splitting of its equities and fixed income divisions, reversing a merger that the pair had driven.

Among senior Nomura executives, confidence in Bhattal evaporated in mid-2011 when the wholesale division lost $1 billion between July-September and more details of his cost cutting plan for its equities division -- the historical heart of Nomura -- emerged.

Sources familiar with the issue told Reuters at the time that although Bhattal had been allowed a graceful exit, he was forced out.

Born in India’s Punjab province, he was an excellent athlete and accomplished squash player who became a Rhodes Scholar and settled into the New York investment banking scene, working for Merrill Lynch before moving to Lehman.

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