The bright, eight-story building was supposed to be something to savor for people working in Tokyo’s Kabutocho securities center. But it has ended up symbolizing the continuing plight of the brokerage industry.

The new headquarters building of Nikko Securities Co., one of the nation’s top three securities firms, was put on sale Friday — the very day it was completed at a site right next to the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

As part of a massive restructuring program to repay its debts, Nikko announced that it will sell 40 billion yen in real estate holdings, including the new head office.

Nikko will nevertheless use the building as its new head office by paying rent to its buyer. About 450 Nikko executives and workers currently based in its main office in the Marunouchi district, including President Masashi Kaneko, will move into the Kabutocho premises by January.

Over the past few years, gloom has prevailed over Kabutocho, which witnessed a series of brokerage failures, including those of big names such as Yamaichi and Sanyo, and continues to be hurt by the stock market slump.

Still, there were expectations that completion of the new Nikko building, a quake-resistant structure equipped with a solar-power generation system, would bring some encouragement to the brokerage industry.

But Nikko eventually decided to speed up its streamlining efforts amid its ongoing plight. Nikko reported 11.6 billion yen in pretax losses for the April-September period. Its restructuring program announced last week calls for eliminating 2,000 jobs, withdrawing from overseas brokerage services, and reorganizing domestic outlets. The sale of its new headquarters is part of its plan to dispose of 140 billion yen in domestic assets.

The nine major banks plan to trim their combined 125,000 workforce by some 16,000 by March 2001. This means that one out of eight bank employees will be affected.

The banks are also moving to slim down their domestic and overseas operations. Fuji Bank plans to cut the number of its domestic outlets from the current 340 to 290 by March 2001, while reorganizing its 47 overseas units into 25.

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