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Yoshifumi Nishikawa, president of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc., will step down and be succeeded by 58-year-old Deputy President Teisuke Kitayama, the company said Tuesday.

Nishikawa, 66, will also resign as president of SMFG subsidiary Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. and hand the post to Masayuki Oku, the 60-year-old deputy president of the commercial bank.

The top management reshuffle in the leading financial group also includes the resignation of 67-year-old Akishige Okada, who is chairman of both SMFG and SMBC. The reshuffle will take effect on June 29.

Announcing the top management changes at a news conference, Kitayama said SMFG would complete the repayment of public funds to the government by the end of fiscal 2007.

SMFG received a 1.501 trillion yen injection of public funds from the government as part of a massive bank recapitalization program in the late 1990s and has so far returned 401 billion yen. It will return the remaining 1.100 trillion yen by March 31, 2008, Kitayama said.

Company sources said Nishikawa decided to step down because the banking group has managed to get past the worst of its bad-loan mess, although it expects to book a group net loss of 240 billion yen in the just-ended business year due to increased disposal of nonperforming loans.

Maeda takes JBA helm

Terunobu Maeda, president of Mizuho Financial Group Inc., on Tuesday became chairman of the Japanese Bankers Association, succeeding Yoshifumi Nishikawa, outgoing president of the Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc.

“My two major goals are to revitalize financial markets and to raise confidence in financial institutions,” Maeda told a news conference.

Maeda takes up the post at a time when the banking industry is facing public pressure to cover losses from cash-card theft and card forgery.

“I’d like to make this year a time for the banking industry to take a strong step forward,” Maeda said.

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