(Bloomberg) -- Nomura Holdings Inc. is aiming for an additional $100 million in cost reductions in its wholesale banking division, as Japan’s largest brokerage seeks to lift its performance.
The progress of this key division toward its earnings targets is “significantly behind,” Chief Executive Officer Kentaro Okuda said in a presentation at the firm’s annual investment forum. The segment, which houses Nomura’s trading and investment banking operations, is seeing business slow abroad although its performance in Japan is robust, he said.
Okuda is trying to revitalize Nomura after profit fell in his first three years in office, weighed by overseas losses. The company has taken a slew of steps to improve results abroad, from expanding in the $1.6 trillion global private lending market to hiring traders in the Middle East while cutting jobs in China.
Okuda said that ensuring the recovery of its macro products business, where it has a high market share, is one of the most important issues for the wholesale business.
“The outlook for interest rates in each country is gradually becoming clearer, and along the way our business performance is improving little by little. But we have no intention of simply waiting for a market recovery,” Okuda said in a separate video presentation.
To achieve the latest cuts in the wholesale business, which generates roughly half of the company’s revenue, Nomura will review corporate functions among other measures, according to the presentation. Already, the division has undertaken overhauls including focusing resources on core products and regions.
“It’s good to see Nomura call out a specific business — in this case, macro — as its focus for increased attention, as it suggests a specific strategy for lifting revenues there,” said Michael Makdad, an analyst at Morningstar Inc. in Tokyo. Still, he added that the extra cost cuts are unlikely to enable the division to consistently deliver returns above cost of capital.
Shares of Nomura fell 0.1% in Tokyo on Wednesday, paring this year’s gain to 23%. The stock trades at 0.58 times the book value of its assets, lower than domestic rival Daiwa Securities Group Inc.’s 0.89.
Nomura has been struggling to curtail expenses in its wholesale business in recent months. Pretax profit from the segment fell in the past two quarters – and it posted losses in the previous two quarters as costs exceeded revenue.
The mission to further cut costs follows an announcement half a year ago of broad business reviews as Okuda seeks to achieve a return of equity of 8% to 10%, a key profit measure that fell last year to less than half those levels.
Separate from the wholesale savings plan, Nomura has completed 66% of a 50 billion yen ($340 million) cost reduction program, which it aims to execute by March 2025. It has cut jobs, deferred compensation and moved branches from street level to higher floors.
Nomura in May slashed its combined pretax profit goal for the retail, wholesale and investment management divisions to 288 billion yen for the year ending March 2025, from the previous target of as much as 390 billion yen, pointing to a changing macroeconomic environment.
Elsewhere, the firm said its retail segment is on track to meet the revised targets. It plans to rename it as the wealth management division in the year starting April 1. The move underscores Nomura’s desire to cater to more wealthy individuals and generate recurring fees from managing their assets.
The name change provides a “positive impression,” Makdad said. It “fits regulators’ preferred approach for healthy development of Japan’s securities business and may also improve investors’ perception of this business’s long-term growth prospects.”
Meanwhile, Nomura also wants to pounce on opportunities in Japan, betting on growing interest in the market. Its plans range from pursuing acquisitions to facilitating the unwinding of cross-shareholdings, according to its presentation.
Here are more details from Okuda’s presentation:
- Sees room to cut 4-6% of risk-weighted assets in the wholesale segment
- Plans to develop private credit expertise in the US under the investment management division
- Also under the investment management division, aims for private real estate fund assets under management of 700 billion to 1 trillion yen in future; seeks private asset management business AUM of more than $10 billion over 10 years in its US business growth
--With assistance from Patrick Winters.
(Updates with Nomura’s share price in eighth paragraph. A previous version updated throughout with details of CEO presentation.)
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.