Banker raps holding-company rules

Less stringent limitations than those currently proposed should be placed on financial holding companies to be allowed under a revised Antimonopoly Law, the head of the nation’s banking industry said Feb. 18.

Shunsaku Hashimoto, chairman of the Japan Federation of Bankers Associations, expressed disapproval of the fact that the Fair Trade Commission, which is preparing the law changes, suggested that major banks, insurers and securities firms be barred from linking up under one holding company. Last week the FTC said the Antimonopoly Law should continue to ban holding companies that bring large-scale financial institutions — the top three in terms of market share or those that have at least 10 percent of the market — together under one roof.

“I believe that we are no longer in an age where (such limits) can be set based on domestic market share,” Hashimoto told a news conference. Hashimoto, who is also president of Sakura Bank, said the financial community instead desires a holding company framework that fits the international scene.

The FTC’s guidelines threaten to further reduce the global competitiveness of Japanese financial institutions, in effect undermining Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto’s plans to make Japan’s markets freer, fairer and more global by 2001, he added. The banking leader’s view was echoed by a senior Finance Ministry official, who also said the FTC draft would prevent the realization of Hashimoto’s “Big Bang” program.