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Equities upset at Nomura as laid off banker gets miraculously rehired

Nomura’s equities business has not been a happy place to be. As we were first to report in March, the Japanese bank cut around 20 senior equity research staff shortly before bonuses were due to be paid. Now, it seems one of them has been reinstated.

Headhunters said Nick Coulter, a food retail analyst, who was let go in March, has been given his job back. Nomura declined to comment and Coulter did not return our call. However, a colleague confirmed that Coulter was working in the London office.

According to one headhunter, who declined to be named, Coulter’s resurrection came after the intervention of Nomura’s investment banking team. “They’ve got a food retail deal coming up and they needed Nick to work on it,” said the headhunter. “People pointed out that it was nuts to let Coulter go.”

Following March’s redundancies, headhunters said Nomura has moved to stabilize its equities business in London. Alan Macdonald, a former head of global equity research at UBS who joined Nomura in late 2011, was promoted to head of research in April. Earlier this month, Steven Downey, previously head of equities trading and equity derivatives in EMEA, was promoted as head of the equities business in EMEA.

Nevertheless, there is said to be some disquiet among Nomura’s equities professionals. “Most people there would like to move,” said one equities headhunter, speaking on condition of anonymity. “There’s a feeling that Nomura’s not committed to equities after they let go of top ranked analysts like Amit Roy.” A spokeperson for Nomura denied this, however, and pointed to plans to build auto equity research teams outside Asia and an oil and gas team in America. “We are also investing in core research functions such as quant and multi-asset research,” she said.

Financial News reported last week that Nomura is ‘re-wiring’ its equities and fixed income businesses and creating a ‘a single dealing floor across fixed income and equities in Europe and the US.’ Headhunters said that this is contributing to the uncertainty in Nomura’s equities business, which is insignificant compared to the fixed income operation – generating only one sixth of the level of revenues in the fourth quarter of the last fiscal year.

Headhunters also claimed that Nomura is combining bonus pools for its fixed income and equities bankers, something the bank declined to confirm. Andrew Lim, an analyst at Espirito Santo, said this could lead to a lack of transparency at bonus time. However, James Chappell, an analyst at Berenberg, said it wouldn’t be an issue. “As long as there’s a decent system in place to ensure bonuses are geared to performance, the combined bonus pools shouldn’t matter,” he told us.

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