Ex-Barclays Staff Find New Home as Mizuho Grows in Equities

  • Mizuho hires for Japan equity sales, research operations
  • Barclays recently cut jobs in Tokyo as part of global pullback

Mizuho Financial Group Inc. is hiring several former employees of Barclays Plc for its Japan equity research and sales operations, a month after the U.K. bank eliminated about 80 positions in Tokyo.

Among the recruits is Hajime Kitano, who joined Mizuho as a director for equity research on Tuesday, said Yohei Osade, global head of Asian equities at the Japanese lender’s brokerage unit. Banking analyst Maoki Matsuno and his assistant started last week, Osade said in an interview.

Undeterred by the recent global stock-market turmoil, Mizuho has been adding equity staff to bolster fee income as negative interest rates weaken lending profitability. Barclays is cutting 1,200 jobs worldwide and winding up its cash equities operations in Asia as it shrinks its investment bank, people familiar with the matter said in January.

Seven or eight equity research analysts and salespeople will join Mizuho Securities Co., mainly from Barclays, on April 1, Osade said. His division has hired more than 40 people since September for roles including sales, research and trading in Tokyo, Hong Kong, New York and San Francisco.

Recoup Investment

Osade said his expansion is beginning to pay off and investors will again warm to Japanese stocks, with local banks in particular looking for places to put their cash after the Bank of Japan started charging them 0.1 percent on additional reserves.

“We’re now able to recoup the investments we’ve made in our Japan equities business,” he said. “Global funds will readjust their views on Japanese stocks in the mid-term, and regional banks will accelerate the diversification of their portfolios due to the central bank’s negative-rate policy.”

Mizuho Securities is the only brokerage unit of Japan’s three so-called megabanks to increase profit so far this fiscal year. Net income rose 18 percent from a year earlier to 50.4 billion yen ($448 million) in the nine months ended Dec. 31.

A stronger research and sales force may help the Tokyo-based firm boost investment-banking business including equity underwriting and mergers advice. Mizuho was ranked fourth among managers of Japan stock sales last year and seventh among M&A advisers, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Global Firms

Kitano joined Barclays in 2013, where he was a managing director and chief equity strategist for Japan. He was ranked sixth among strategists in the country last year, according to a survey by Nikkei Veritas. He also worked for seven years at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Matsuno, who started with the U.K. firm in 2015, had an earlier stint at Daiwa Securities Group Inc.

Barclays is among global banks that have been trimming staff in Japan as they refocus operations worldwide to cope with stricter regulations and the fallout from rising market volatility. That’s given local competitors such as Mizuho the chance to hire talent.

“We’ve seen a big stream of global firms being forced to return to their home countries,” Osade said. “Some of the people working there are bilinguals with global knowledge and networks.”

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