• Bloomberg


Nomura Holdings Inc., the nation’s largest brokerage, may postpone an initial public offering of regional lender Ashikaga Holdings Co. by as much as two years, two sources said.

Nomura expects to sell shares in Ashikaga by March 31, 2013, two years later than originally planned, the sources said, declining to be identified as deliberations on the IPO are private. The Tokyo-based firm is Ashikaga’s biggest shareholder, with a 46 percent stake.

The Topix Banks Index, which tracks 83 Japanese lenders, fell to the lowest since at least January 1983 on Thursday, almost a week after Mizuho Financial Group Inc. announced a plan to sell as many as 6 billion shares. That offering will add to more than $43 billion in stock sales by Mizuho and its two largest publicly traded rivals in the past two years.

Companies worldwide shelved 50 IPOs in the past three months, the most in six quarters, on concern the end of government stimulus and widening budget gaps from Greece to Spain will curb the global economic recovery.

“There is no need for Nomura to rush the IPO with Mizuho’s share still pending and investors remaining cautious about the banking industry,” said Masaru Hamasaki, chief strategist in Tokyo at Toyota Asset Management Co., which oversees the equivalent of $15 billion. “There is a risk for Nomura in holding a long-term interest in the bank, so they should sell off at the right time as a private equity investor.”

Ashikaga, based in Tochigi Prefecture, said in a business plan released in February 2009 that it was aiming to list in the current fiscal year. Nomura spokeswoman Keiko Sugai declined comment on whether the IPO will be postponed. Yasuhiro Akutsu, a spokesman for Ashikaga, reiterated the bank’s plan to prepare for a listing this year.

Nomura President Kenichi Watanabe is spending part of almost $8 billion raised in public share sales since March 2009 on expanding operations overseas to compete with global rivals such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Barclays PLC.

The brokerage is hiring as many as 35 bankers in the U.S. this year, and said Thursday it hired four people to expand its equities business in Germany. Net income rebounded to ¥18.4 billion ($210 million) at Nomura for the three months that ended March 31, compared with a loss of ¥215.8 billion a year earlier, the company said April 28.

Nomura in 2008 led a group of investors acquiring Ashikaga from the government, which nationalized the lender in 2003 after its capital adequacy ratio went negative. Nomura held a 46 percent stake in the lender as of March 31, according to Ashikaga. A fund backed by a Nomura-affiliated venture capital firm owned 5.6 percent of Ashikaga as of March 31, the bank said.

Regional banks are struggling to boost profit as the population in many regional centers declines and competition for business intensifies. About 40 percent of the nation’s 84 listed regional lenders forecast income to fall this year as benchmark interest rates remain close to zero, according to data from Nomura Holdings Inc.

Japanese bank shares trade at about a two-thirds discount to lenders in Hong Kong based on price to book value.

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