We have remarked before on the waning presence of ex-Lehman bankers at Nomura (and the concomitant ascension of ex-RBS banker Steve Ashley). With today's apparent departure of John Phizackerley, the de-Lehmanization of Nomura is nearly done. Any remaining Lehman bankers at the Japanese firm probably have reason to feel afraid - especially if they work in the markets business.
Nomura isn't commenting on Phizackerley's departure. Reuters reported that Phizackerley has almost certainly gone, for reasons unknown. Nomura is in the process of yet another restructuring and is clearing out senior staff, although it is possible that Phizackerley left voluntarily.
For ex-Lehman bankers at Nomura, Phizackerley's exit marks the end of an era. He was the last former Lehman Brothers executive in a senior management role at the Japanese bank. Following the departure of Jesse Bhattal, Tarun Jotwani, Philip Lynch, and William Vereker, since January 2012, any remaining Lehmanites at Nomura now lack a senior management champion.
One senior Nomura lifer who left last year told us the fall of the new Lehman colleagues was inevitable. "The problem with the Lehman bankers at Nomura is that they weren't a good fit," he said. "They came from a classic US investment banking structure and Nomura was a classic Japanese investment bank. There were always going to be difficulties blending those two cultures, although it would have been a lot easier if we'd actually been able to make money."
Since acquiring the European operations of Lehman, Nomura has struggled to make its investment banking operations profitable. It's the middle of a $1bn cost cutting programme which will end in March 2014. Nomura is also revising its equities business after announcing plans to integrate its equities operations with Instinet, the agency brokerage last year. Formerly head of research and co-head of European equities at Lehman, Phizackerley was an equities banker before he became EMEA CEO. Speculation suggests the equities revamp could have contributed to his departure.
As the ex-Lehman bankers have waned at Nomura, ex-RBS bankers have risen. Former RBS trader Steve Ashley was promoted as head of global markets for the Nomura last year. Gary Cottle, a former RBS banker and one of Ashley's hires, was promoted to senior managing director earlier this month.
This is not to say that there are no Lehman bankers left at Nomura. There are: they are just not at the most senior levels. In 2012 Financial News identified several ex-Lehman bankers just below senior management level at Nomura. Of them, the Financial Services Authority Register suggests that Charles Pitts-Tucker, joint international head of investment banking, Philippe Dufournier, global head of global finance, Ken Brown, global head of ECM, Ben Iversen and Jérôme Renard, co-heads of equity capital markets in EMEA, Saba Nazar, global co-head of sponsors, Jean-Philippe Favre, co-head of natural resources and power in Emea and Adrian Fisk, co-head of M&A for EMEA, are all at Nomura still. However, they have good reason to look over their shoulders warily.
James Chappell, banking analyst at Berenberg, suggested the problems Lehman bankers have had at Nomura are common after banking mergers. "Historically, one plus one never equals two when banks merge," said Chappell. "There have been very few investment banking deals that have actually been value-creative."