Business / Corporate

CEO of Japan's Nomura unexpectedly steps down as restructuring bears fruit

Bloomberg

Nomura Holdings Inc. Chief Executive Officer Koji Nagai is resigning after seven years in the post, handing over to his deputy at a time when an overseas restructuring is starting to bear fruit.

Co-Chief Operating Officer Kentaro Okuda will take the reins at Japan’s biggest brokerage April 1, the company said in a statement Monday. Nagai is scheduled to become chairman.

Nagai, 60, spent most of his reign wrestling with losses abroad that prompted three major cost-cutting exercises, the most recent of which took place earlier this year and is showing early signs of success. The turnaround has propelled Nomura shares to their highest level in more than a year.

Okuda, 56, who currently presides over the global wholesale business, now faces the challenge of reviving retail operations at home amid a slump in stock trading.

“The jury is still out on whether Nomura has turned around, but perhaps Nagai is simply stepping down with Nomura’s share price at a 52-week high,” said Justin Tang, head of Asian research at United First Partners, a firm specializing in event-driven analysis.

Nagai was narrowly reappointed to the board earlier this year after an information leak led to regulatory penalties. His fortunes have improved since then, with the company reporting profit climbing to the highest in 17 years in the most recent quarter.

Shares of Nomura have climbed 69 percent from this year’s low in June, and are trading at the highest in more than a year.