July 31, 2019 / 7:39 AM / 22 days ago

Nomura's first-quarter profit soars more than 10 times after horror year

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past a signboard of Nomura Securities outside its branch in Tokyo, Japan, February 2, 2016. REUTERS/Yuya Shino/File Photo

TOKYO (Reuters) - Nomura Holdings (8604.T) on Wednesday said its first-quarter profit soared more than tenfold after restructuring its portfolio, as Japan’s top investment bank sought to draw a line under its worst year in a decade.

The recovery was led by a sharp improvement in its wholesale division, which had long been a drag and last year pushed Nomura into an annual loss for the first time in 10 years.

Its vaunted reputation has also been dented. In May, Japan’s financial watchdog ordered it to improve internal controls after an information leak related to listing and delisting criteria at the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

“Results of our structural reform started to emerge,” Chief Financial Officer Takumi Kitamura told an earnings briefing on Wednesday.

April-June profit came in at 55.8 billion yen (£423.17 million) versus 5.2 billion yen a year earlier. The result blew past the 14.9 billion yen average of two analyst estimates compiled by Refinitiv.

The wholesale division posted 20 billion yen in pretax profit in the first quarter, due particularly to recovery in its U.S. fixed income business. That compared to a 7 billion yen loss a year earlier.

Pretax profit at its asset management business increased by 76%, although the retail business saw a 60% drop from the same period a year earlier.

Following the information leak this year, Nomura missed a chance to lead manage a mammoth sale of shares in Japan Post Holdings Co Ltd (6178.T) as the government took the leak into account when choosing underwriters.

Chief Executive Koji Nagai said he would take a 30% pay cut for three months after the debacle, and at a general meeting in June, shareholders voted for him to remain in his position.

Reporting by Takashi Umekawa; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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