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Nomura Holdings Inc. pulled ahead of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to hold on to the top spot for mergers and acquisitions advisory work in Japan in 2011 after the two competed neck and neck during the last two months.

Nomura, the nation’s largest brokerage, this year advised companies on 134 transactions worth $65.4 billion, including Takeda Pharmaceutical Co.’s $13.7 billion acquisition of Swiss drugmaker Nycomed. Goldman Sachs came in second after handling 24 deals worth $62.3 billion.

Retaining the No. 1 position will require Nomura to harness Japanese demand for overseas assets. Bolstered by the strong yen, Japan’s companies spent about $88.3 billion on overseas acquisitions in 2011, the most in any of the 12 years for which Bloomberg data is available. Nomura ranked fourth among advisers of such deals, behind Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse Group AG and Deutsche Bank AG, the data show.

“Japanese companies will increase their presence even further next year as acquirers in cross-border mergers and acquisitions as they are in a relatively strong position in business and financial performance,” Nomura’s Joint Head of Global M&A Kentaro Okuda said in an interview. “We are already seeing this trend in our pipeline of deals which will keep our M&A bankers busy through the New Year’s break.”

Nomura competed with Goldman Sachs for the top position since October, when the New York-based bank took first place in the rankings after advising Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd. in its $22.5 billion acquisition by Nippon Steel Corp. Nomura wasn’t involved with that deal, Japan’s biggest in at least five years.

Japan saw 2,261 transactions valued at $195.9 billion this year to Thursday, a record for the equivalent period, data compiled by Bloomberg show. A total of 795 Japanese firms, including Mitsubishi Corp., Kirin Holdings Co., Terumo Corp. and Tokio Marine Holdings Inc., made acquisitions overseas.

Nomura and Goldman Sachs were followed by Bank of America Corp., Deutsche Bank AG and Mizuho Financial Group Inc. in the rankings. Goldman Sachs Tokyo spokeswoman Hiroko Matsumoto declined to comment on the advisory ranking.

Nomura has held the top position for five years. The brokerage had a 33.4 percent market share this year, the lowest in three years.

Among the purchases on which Nomura offered advice this year was its own acquisition of affiliate Nomura Tochi Tatemono Co. for $11 billion. It also advised on Toshiba Corp.’s acquisition of nuclear-plant designer Westinghouse Electric Co. and the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s merger with the Osaka Securities Exchange.

Goldman Sachs, which hasn’t been No. 1 in Japan since 2006, is the top adviser for global mergers and acquisitions this year. It also advised Nycomed on its takeover by Takeda as well as with Hitachi Ltd. on its sale of a hard disk drive business to Western Digital Corp. for $4.3 billion.

As part of its efforts to secure business after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the U.S. bank tapped former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to speak to 300 investors and company executives at a forum in Tokyo in June.

The U.S. bank has donated at least ¥520 million to help with emergency relief efforts in the wake of Japan’s largest earthquake on record, the biggest donation among 161 financial firms in Japan, according to research conducted in April.

Nomura is ranked 12th among acquisition advisers globally.

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