Yamaichi Securities delists at 2 yen a share

The name of Yamaichi Securities — once Japan’s largest brokerage during the heyday of its 100-year history — was removed from quotation boards at the Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya stock exchanges as the firm was delisted March 27.

Its shares ended Thursday, the eve of its delisting, at 2 yen on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, with trading volume swelling to 41 million shares, the biggest on the first section for the day. Its closing price was unchanged from Wednesday.

Trading in such near-death shares is usually very active because the prices are low and fluctuate wildly. If a 2 yen share goes up by 1 yen the next day, for example, investors can get a quick 50 percent return on their investments.

Individual investors had moved to buy Yamaichi shares on expectations that the securities house would not have a negative net worth upon liquidation and its residual assets would be allocated to shareholders, market sources said.

But an official of Yamaichi, which decided to shut down last November under the weight of huge off-the-book debts, said it is uncertain if the brokerage will post an excess of assets over debts as it will be two to three years before liquidation.

Yamaichi, set up in 1897, faced management difficulties in the 1960s amid tough conditions within the securities industry. It had avoided bankruptcy by taking on “tokuyu” special collateral-free loans from the Bank of Japan in 1965. Yamaichi shares peaked at a record high of 3,130 yen in 1987, buoyed by the speculation-backed bubble economy.