Nomura Holdings bestowed the board room keys to a foreigner for the first time in an attempt to show its hip to globalizing its exclusive inner circle and plug the wave of defections of former Lehmanites.
The Japanese firm invited Jasjit "Jesse" Bhattal to join the bank's 10-person executive management board that will give an outsider a voice in shaping bank strategy and the group's budget. Bhattal was also promoted to chief operating officer of a newly established global wholesale division which will encompass the firm's global markets, investment banking, and other wholesale operations. The heads of the wholesale businesses and the regional CEOs in Asia ex-Japan, EMEA, and the Americas will report to Bhattal in his new position as of April 1.
The appointment comes just weeks before Bhattal was set to turn in his Nomura badge. In July 2009, he resigned as the bank's head of Asia-Pacific operations, a blow to staff morale among former Lehman bankers in the region.
As the chief executive of Lehman's Asia operations at the time of the takeover in late 2008, Bhattal commanded loyalty from his troops. He was the longest serving Asia-Pacific CEO of any global investment bank and the region was the most profitable for Lehman during his tenure. During the transition, Bhattal helped secure employment and bonuses for his entire staff from Nomura, writes The Wall Street Journal. His decision to stay put and join the bank's upper ranks is expected to stem employee turnover, which has accelerated in recent weeks as the two year bonus retention agreements are about to expire.
Though its acquisition of Lehman's Asian and European operations has catapulted Nomura onto the global banking stage, integrating its Japanese and non-Japanese staff has been challenging and rife with culture clashes. Differences have ranged from the way business decisions are made to the treatment of women in the workplace.
Among Nomura's 95 senior managing directors, about 35% are non-Japanese, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Write to Yoree Koh