Nomura Said to Begin Ashikaga Exit With $210 Million Sale

Nomura Holdings Inc. will begin its exit from Ashikaga Holdings Co. by selling about 21 billion yen ($210 million) of preferred shares in the Japanese regional bank, said two people briefed on the matter.

Nomura Capital Investment Co., a unit of Japan’s largest brokerage, is poised to sell 8,000 preferred shares to closely held Ashikaga next week for 2.58 million yen apiece, said the people, who asked not to be named as the transaction is private.

The sale would further Nomura’s goal of exiting private equity investments as Chief Executive Officer Koji Nagai focuses on bolstering profit growth. It joins global firms including Bank of America Corp. in selling assets to raise cash and concentrate on their main businesses as regulators tighten capital and liquidity requirements.

Nomura, which first invested in Utsunomiya, Tochigi-based Ashikaga in 2008 when it bought shares held by the government, is preparing to sell a portion of the stake in an initial public offering or through mergers and acquisitions, the people said.

Kenji Yamashita, a Tokyo-based spokesman for Nomura, declined to comment, as did Ashikaga’s spokesman Ikumasa Kobayashi.

Government Takeover

Nomura bought 46 percent of common shares in Ashikaga from the government for about 61 billion yen in 2008, according to the regional bank’s regulatory filings. Tokyo-based Nomura has also invested about 58 billion yen in preferred shares and debt. Japan took over the failed bank in 2003 after bad loans mounted following the collapse of the country’s asset bubble.

Ashikaga will seek to buy back as many as 10,000 preferred shares from investors and cancel them to reduce costs for dividend payments and increase cash reserves, the lender said in a statement on May 31.

Nomura almost halved its private equity-related investments to 107 billion yen as of June 30 from 206 billion yen a year earlier, according to an earnings presentation released in July.

It sold a stake in Annington Homes Ltd., a U.K. housing estate company, for 914 million pounds ($1.4 billion) in December. In 2011, the bank sold Japanese family restaurant chain Skylark Co. to Bain Capital LLC and Tsubaki Nakashima Co., a bearing and machine-tool maker, to Carlyle Group LP.

Ashikaga hired Nomura as the lead manager of the IPO and may sell new shares in addition to existing stock, two people familiar with the deal said last year.

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