Mizuho Financial Group Inc., Japan’s first megabank group, faces tough going amid global waves of digitalization and the coronavirus crisis as it marked the 20th anniversary of its creation Tuesday.
The group is seeking to become “a next-generation financial institution,” Tatsufumi Sakai, president and group chief executive officer at Mizuho Financial Group, has said.
The company’s predecessor, Mizuho Holdings Inc., was established Sept. 29, 2000, through the integration of Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank, Fuji Bank and Industrial Bank of Japan. It was one of the world’s largest banking groups in terms of assets.
The deal was struck amid the Japanese banking industry realignment from the 1990s that consolidated 13 city banks, plus trust banks, into five groups also including Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc..
The cataclysmic change in the industry was spurred by massive bad loans left by the collapse of the country’s speculation-driven bubble economy in the early 1990s.
The Mizuho group initially aimed to become one of the world’s top five banks.
But a large-scale computer system glitch occurred at the group in April 2002, causing delays in vast amounts of transactions including utility bill payments from depositor accounts.
In 2011, another glitch hit the group when its systems were overwhelmed by an avalanche of relief donations for areas hit by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster. The group was criticized severely.
In 2013, the group was found to have taken no action on inappropriate loans extended to yakuza by a group company though it was aware of the problem.
Since its establishment, the Mizuho group has received a business improvement order from the Financial Services Agency a total of four times.
Behind its problems was a lack of crisis control capabilities of the then-managers, who focused on keeping a balance among employees from the three different predecessor banks, for example, in the number of executives, according to Sakai.
In 2014, then-Mizuho Financial Group President Yasuhiro Sato decided to adopt a “company with committees” system with stronger management oversight by outside directors. No other megabank groups had adopted such a corporate governance system.
In July 2019, the Mizuho group completed the integration of the computer systems inherited from the three predecessor banks.
Banks are facing stiffer competition from information technology and other companies piling into the financial industry, while struggling with prolonged low interest rates and the coronavirus crisis, analysts said.
In the global market, U.S. and European financial giants have substantial presence, they said.
Mizuho Financial’s group net profit in the year through March this year stood at ¥448.5 billion, smaller than those at its two rival megabank groups, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc..
“We’re not comfortable at all” with the current situation, Sakai said.
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