Nippon Credit Bank President Tadayo Honma passed away Wednesday morning of heart failure. He was 60.

His death came 16 days after NCB made a fresh start Sept. 4 under new owners.

Honma was on a business trip to Osaka on Wednesday morning when he was taken ill and was rushed to Kanou Hospital in Osaka’s Kita Ward, company officials said. He was pronounced dead at 9:11 a.m.

The news has posed yet another stumbling block to NCB, which was purchased by a consortium led by Internet investor Softbank Corp. on Sept. 1, after months of fierce public debate on how to deal with its vast outstanding loans. The institution will be renamed Aozora Bank in January.

Honma, a former executive director of the Bank of Japan, was also vice president of the Tokyo Small and Medium Business Investment Consultation Co. As newly appointed president of NCB, he had pledged to continue traditional-style lending to corporations while increasing loans to startups.

Company officials could not hide their shock.

“He was working at top speed to take the next step forward,” said Shinya Kuwaoka, deputy manager of the public relations division. “It happened so suddenly.”

Kotera Yoshinobu, NCB’s senior managing director, will act as president for the time being, he said.

NCB was nationalized in December 1998 after collapsing under 3.2 trillion yen in bad loans.

The bank was sold to its new owners after the government agreed to leave a controversial clause in the sales contract that allows the consortium to have the government buy back NCB loans whose value falls by 20 percent in three years.

The bank had just announced a new operating plan to rehabilitate its finances and operations, and the government had agreed to inject 260 billion yen in public funds to bolster NCB’s capital base.

Other executives include Softbank President Masayoshi Son, Kokei Higuchi, president of Tokio Marine & Fire Insurance Co., and Yoshihiko Miyauchi, chairman of Orix Corp.

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