Jesse Bhattal, the highest-ranking ex-Lehman Brothers executive at Japanese investment bank Nomura Holdings, has resigned after the wholesale division he led suffered heavy losses.
The loss of Bhattal is the latest blow to Nomura’s ambitions to join the elite ranks of global investment banks following its acquisition of Lehman’s European and Asian operations after the storied Wall Street firm collapsed in 2008.
Bhattal, 55, was chief executive of Nomura’s wholesale division, which fell deep into the red in July-September as fees slid across the investment banking industry, prompting Nomura to launch a $1.2bn (£776m) cost-cutting drive.
Nomura said Bhattal had decided to retire from investment banking and would also resign as deputy president of Nomura Holdings.
Takumi Shibata, Nomura’s chief operating officer and the architect of the Lehman acquisition, will take over Bhattal’s responsibilities for now, while leading the search for a permanent successor, the company said in a statement.
India-born Bhattal was the former Asia Pacific CEO for Lehman. When Nomura swept in and bought Lehman’s Asia business, along with its Europe, Middle East and Africa unit, Bhattal served as not only the key legacy Lehman figure at the bank, but also a seasoned international banker who would play a key role in pushing Nomura into markets outside Japan.
Nomura’s deal for Lehman was signed in September 2008, just a week after the Wall Street brokerage filed for bankruptcy. At the time, Lehman had some 3,000 employees in Asia in 10 offices, with roughly 1,300 in Tokyo and 800 in Hong Kong.
To keep Lehman bankers from leaving at the year-end, Nomura offered a wide range of guaranteed pay packages to ex-Lehman staffers, irking legacy Nomura bankers and jacking up costs at the bank.