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The Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan relaunched itself as Shinsei Bank on Monday, about 19 months after it collapsed and was placed under state control.

Officials unveiled a sign bearing the name Shinsei Bank at its head office in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward shortly before the 9 a.m. start of business.

“Shinsei” means “new birth.”

“Speed is important,” said Masamoto Yashiro, chairman and chief executive officer of the bank. “In anticipation of the financial world five years from now, we want to develop new financial products to meet customers’ future needs.

“We will stress the importance to retail banking, too.” he added. “We want to be a small but profitable bank.”

Shinsei Bank began issuing Shinsei credit cards Monday, in cooperation with Visa International, and also kicked off sales of investment trusts.

One issue Shinsei Bank must deal with is how to handle a request from department store chain Sogo Co., which is restructuring, to forgive 97 billion yen in loans.

The LTCB, one of Japan’s three long-term credit banks that were allowed to raise funds by floating debentures, collapsed and was nationalized in October 1998. In March, the government sold the LTCB to New LTCB Partners CV, a consortium led by Ripplewood Holdings LLC of the United States.

Shinsei Bank will seek to list itself on various stock exchanges and intends to resume operations in New York, London and Hong Kong in two years.

NCB pursuer quits

The Cerberus Group of the United States said Monday it has abandoned plans to acquire Nippon Credit Bank.

Cerberus, one of the investment groups bidding for the nationalized bank, said it has no plans to issue any further comment on the matter.

The sudden pullout by Cerberus will effectively narrow the bidding field to the alliance comprising Softbank Corp., Orix Corp. and Tokio Marine & Fire Insurance Co.

On Wednesday, the Financial Reconstruction Commission failed to reach an agreement with the Softbank consortium by the May 31 deadline and reopened the race to other bidders like Cerberus. The Softbank group had been given priority bidding rights for NCB.

However, sources say that due to headway made after the deadline, the FRC may seal the deal with the Softbank group this week.