Nomura elects first foreigner to board

Nomura has appointed its first foreigner to the board, as part of a change in management structure aimed at supporting its global expansion.

Former Lehman Brothers executive Jasjit “Jesse” Bhattal will be the first foreigner to take up a place on the bank’s 10-strong executive management board. As of 1 April, Bhattal, who was born in India, will become president and chief operating officer of a new global wholesale division, encompassing the Japanese firm’s investment banking and global markets operations. “Over the past year and a half, Nomura has successfully built a globally-competitive Asia franchise ready to expand market share and capitalise on opportunities,” said Nomura.

The surprise decision comes less than a year after Bhattal announced his intention to quit the bank at the end of this month. Bhattal, who aided the sale of Lehman’s Asian operations to Nomura after the US bank failed in September 2008, will also become the first former Lehman executive to sit on Nomura’s board.

At least five senior employees, including Siggi Thorkelsson, have recently left Nomura after guaranteed bonuses the firm put in place to retain staff following the acquisition were paid earlier this month. Under Bhattal, Lehman Brothers Asian revenue rose almost sevenfold to $2.9bn (£1.9bn) in 2007 from $425m in 2001.

HSBC hired former Nomura executive Jane Wang for its Chinese unit.

JASJIT "Jesse" Bhattal has more than 25 years experience in the investment banking industry, receiving an honours from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. Bhattal joined Lehman Brother's Hong Kong office in 1993 after working at Merrill Lynch in a variety of senior investment banking positions in New York and London. He served as head of Asia equity capital markets, deputy head of Asia investment banking and head of Asia investment banking, before becoming chief executive of Lehman's Asian-Pacific operations, in 2000.

He was the longest serving Asia-Pacific chief executive of any global investment bank and joined the Lehman executive committee in 2003. Bhattal was an architect of the sale of Lehman's Asian operations to Nomura in 2008. In July 2009, Bhattal resigned as chairman of Asian operations after Nomura couldn't find a suitable position for him. He retained a senior advisory role, which was due to expire at the end of this month.