Barclays, Hokkaido Takushoku eye business tieup

Hokkaido Takushoku Bank and Barclays Bank PLC announced June 16 they will begin discussions toward mutual business cooperation in such areas as asset securitization and development of products for the Japanese market.

Shinichi Aikawa, managing director at Hokkaido Takushoku, and Andrew Simmonds, chief executive of Barclays Group in Japan, told a joint news conference that the day’s agreement did not include any plans for cross-shareholding. The move, which representatives of both sides stressed was “nonexclusive” in terms of other financial institutions, was an effort by the two banks to meet the challenges expected by the further deregulation of the domestic financial sector through the “Big Bang” deregulatory reforms.

While details would be hammered out in upcoming weeks, bank officials said they expect talks to focus on development and sales of new products in Japan and the securitization of some of Takushoku’s assets, such as mortgage loans. Barclays could also provide a channel for Takushoku Bank’s clients to access international markets, since the Japanese financial institution plans to close down all its overseas operations in a massive restructuring plan.

Simmonds said the Big Bang “was still an evolving process,” and there was still much to learn, adding he did not view the fact that Takushoku’s branches were largely concentrated in Hokkaido as being a big problem. Aikawa said the cooperation dialogue would be held between Takushoku and Barclays alone, even though his bank — the smallest of the nation’s so-called city banks — plans to merge with the regional Hokkaido Bank next April.

Hokkaido Bank was not invited to join in the cooperation discussions, and at this point any agreement between Takushoku and Barclays would not apply to the bank formed after the merger, according to Aikawa. The move comes roughly two months after Nippon Credit Bank, another financial institution in dire straits, unveiled a comprehensive restructuring plan and forged business ties with Bankers Trust Co. that included cross-shareholding.