Rumours are rife in Tokyo that Citigroup is about to offload some of its Japanese units barely one year after investing US$15bn on beefing up its Japan business. A recent Reuters report suggests its brokerage Nikko Cordial Securities and investment firm Nikko Asset Management could be sold to one of the major local players. Mizuho Financial Group has already stated that it will consider bidding for the companies.
Could this mean rough times are ahead for the people at Nikko? That may depend on their roles. The effect of any sell-off would probably be felt differently by front office and back office staff, says Kyoungjin Lim, manager of finance technology at recruitment firm Pinnacle Consulting Group.
“For front office people, it depends on how much of an overlap there is between the products in Nikko and those in the bank that will take Nikko. If most of the products overlap, it is likely that there might be layoffs and cultural changes on the Nikko side. If the overlap is not so big, people on the Nikko side could keep their culture at least for couple of years as ex-Lehman people have done in Nomura,” says Lim.
Lim warns that in operations the overlaps between functions are likley to be larger. A spokesperson for Citi in Tokyo declined to comment on the speculation but said the firm believes its Japanese brokerage has “great people”. The question is now whether these so-called great people will in the future be working for Citi, joining a Japanese bank, or looking for a new job.
What will be the fate of Citi’s Nikko units? Let us know below.