Bad omen for Nomura bankers

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First they had to tolerate the arrival of 2,500 Lehman bankers on inflated guarantees. Now Nomura's existing staff are being asked to take orders from their uninvited guests.

On Friday, Nomura revealed that ex-Lehmanites Christian Meissner and William Vereker are to be heads of investment banking for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and that Glenn Schiffman will head Asia-Pacific investment banking, based in Hong Kong.

The appointments are said to be another move to keep Lehman bankers on side, but may do more to alienate Nomura bankers who are already said to be peeved at the generous packages on offer to the new arrivals.

With losses of 148bn in the global markets division in the first half of 2008, there's also a strong possibility that Nomura will need to trim costs in the not too distant future. Headcount was to be reduced by 700 during the integration process anyway; if more cuts become necessary legacy staff now look certain to suffer most.

The good news for Nomura bankers is that headhunters say this is unlikely to happen: the Lehman people are keen to leave the instant guarantees have been paid out.

"You're going to see a lot of natural fallout from Nomura in March/April when the Lehman people get 70% of their first payout," says one. "Redundancies won't be necessary."

Nomura typically pays considerably less than Lehman. Last year, the average European employee at Nomura earned 156k, against 205k for the average Lehman banker globally.

The bad news is that unless things pick up by spring (unlikely), former Lehman bankers won't have anywhere to go to. If so, sticking with Nomura will seem distinctly appealing and Nomura bankers may yet find themselves displaced permanently.

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