Financial firm SBI Holdings Inc. has ambitions to revive struggling regional banks by taking stakes and pushing them into higher-margin businesses — a strategy that may get a boost from the country's new prime minister.

Although regional lenders are dominant outside of Tokyo and other big cities, many are tied to areas where the population is aging rapidly and business has been hollowed out. The pandemic has deepened the pain after years of low-margin lending.

Yoshihide Suga has pledged to strengthen local economies and encourage regional banks to consolidate, a shake-up that many say is long overdue.