Nomura’s Americas Equities Chief O’Kelly Is Leaving Bank

Nomura’s Americas Equities Chief O’Kelly Is Said to Leave
Ciaran O’Kelly led Nomura Holdings Inc.’s equities business in the Americas during a period in which the firm added hundreds of employees in a bid to boost revenue in the region. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Ciaran O’Kelly, hired by Nomura Holdings Inc. in 2009 to lead the expansion of its Americas equities business, is leaving as the Japanese bank overhauls operations abroad.

O’Kelly, 44, previously global head of equities at Bank of America Corp., will remain at Nomura through the end of the year, David Findlay, chief executive officer of the Americas unit, wrote in a memo obtained by Bloomberg News. Jonathan Hodgkinson, a company spokesman, confirmed its contents. O’Kelly led Nomura’s equities business in the region as the firm added hundreds of employees to boost revenue.

CEO Koji Nagai, 53, is cutting $210 million in expenses in the Americas as part of a plan to make the Tokyo-based bank’s overseas operations profitable by June 2014. The changes follow a four-year struggle to build a presence abroad, beginning with the 2008 purchase of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s European and Asian units.

O’Kelly “had a mandate to spend a lot of money” when he was recruited to Nomura, and his departure comes as the priorities change, said Richard Lipstein, managing director of search firm Gilbert Tweed International in New York.

Nagai took over as CEO from Kenichi Watanabe, 59, last month amid an insider-trading scandal and is pulling back after overseas operations reported nine consecutive quarterly losses.

Expanded Workforce

Glenn Schiffman, who ran Lehman’s Asia-Pacific investment bank and joined Nomura during the takeover, left as head of Americas investment banking last year. He was replaced by James DeNaut.

O’Kelly, who was one of Nomura’s top executives in the Americas, spent seven years at Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America before leaving in 2009. He previously was at New York-based Citigroup Inc. for 11 years, where he was head of equity trading from 2000 to 2002.

Nomura expanded its workforce in the Americas to 2,350 from 900 in March 2009.

The Americas contributed 35.5 billion yen ($456 million), or 29 percent, to Nomura’s fiscal first-quarter global wholesale net revenue, which includes investment banking, fixed-income and equities trading. That compares with 42.5 billion yen, or 27 percent, in the previous quarter ended March 31, which was the Americas wholesale division’s strongest since Nomura began building its U.S. operation in April 2009.

‘Less Liquidity’

The global wholesale unit reported an 8.6 billion yen loss before income taxes in the fiscal first quarter, and the bank said equities and investment-banking revenues were “affected by less liquidity in major markets and fewer revenue opportunities,” according to a July presentation.

Nomura generated 161.7 billion yen ($2.1 billion) in global equity trading revenue in the 12 months ended June 30. That compares with $3.2 billion at Bank of America and $5.6 billion at Morgan Stanley.

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