While Asia's economy has recovered from the lows hit a year ago, a bumpy road is ahead, with companies needing to shed debt burdens and increase capital bases, according to Nomura's Asia Pacific investment banking head.
I think the recovery is going to be bumpy, said Nomura's Glenn Schiffman in an interview with Reuters Television. The de-leveraging has to continue, which means asset sales, which also means equity raising.
Schiffman said that a major growth area for the bank is Australia, with Nomura planning dozens of hires there in the next 12 to 18 months.
The Japanese brokerage purchased the Asian, European and Middle Eastern operations of Lehman Brothers last year, just after the New York investment bank collapsed.
The deal allowed Nomura to expand more broadly beyond it's Japanese borders and to grow its investment banking platform across the globe.
Our pipeline is quite strong in equity raising, he said. Although Nomura has yet to handle one of the large IPOs coming from the Hong Kong market, Schiffman said the bank plans to manage such a deal when the opportunity arises.
In the meantime, Nomura has seen success in handling other equity offerings and bond deals.
Singapore ports group PSA International, owned by state investor Temasek TEM.UL, sold $500 million of a 10-year bond earlier this month, a source said at the time. The deal was arranged by Nomura, JPMorgan, DBS Bank.
Of the total debt sold, investors from Asia accounted for 74 percent and the rest from Europe and the United States.
We wouldn't have seen that a year or two ago, Schiffman said. And we're seeing that on the equity side as well, he said, adding that more of this capital will continue to come from Asia.
Nomura initially struggled with the Lehman integration, hurt by an economy that fell further after the deal. While Nomura kept many Lehman bankers from leaving by offering guaranteed salaries, some of the New York firm's top talent have left. Nomura faced the prospect of pay disparity throughout the bank and put measures in place to address it.
I don't think our issues around compensation are any different than the industry-wide issues and the specific company issues, Schiffman said, pointing out that the entire investment banking industry was affected by last year's market plunge.
We've always paid our people competitively, added Schiffman, who came to Nomura from Lehman. And we will pay our people competitively.
Nomura's first quarter this year reversed a year and a half decline.
(Writing by Michael Flaherty; Editing by Jonathan Hopfner and Ken Wills)