Nomura stores at Walmart for senior banker

Nomura reverses the talent drain from investment banks to Chinese corporate clients by persuading a negotiator to go the other way.

Japanese bank hired Li Gao joins as Managing Director and Head of Financial Sponsors for China from US retail giant Walmart, where she was vice president of the finance department in Shenzen.

At Nomura, Gao will move to Hong Kong and bring back to Kenji Teshima the Head of investment banking, for Asia excluding Japan

Before Walmart, Gao spent 13 years in investment banking and held various positions at JP Morgan and Credit Suisse.

Nomura is also looking to hire a new head of the healthcare investment bank following the departure of Vijay Karwal, who resigned to become CFO of Chinese healthcare firm AffaMed.

Karwal is one of the many senior negotiators who have left Western banks to join corporate clients. This brain drain comes at a time when banks are scrambling to find talent in sectors such as financial sponsors, technology and healthcare, where business is driven by public and private investors.

Persuading Gao to return to banking is proof of the kind of creative solutions banks are looking for to strengthen their ranks. Nomura said in a note that Gao will be “a contributor to the growth” of its business in China.

Nomura declined to comment.

Gao’s arrival is also a sign that Nomura wants to maintain his presence in the investment bank in Hong Kong after CEO Kentaro Okuda told the FT he ‘seriously consider’ its strategy for Greater China after passing the security law last year.

While Okuda said the bank will not displace Hong Kong bankers, he said Nomura was actively expanding its operations in Singapore, which it sees as an attractive location between East and South Asia.

Nomura wants to strengthen its presence in mainland China, where it has yet to start an investment banking business, so as Gao’s hiring suggests, Hong Kong remains important.

The bank’s Asian operations outside of Japan have two headquarters in Hong Kong and Singapore. Companies like FX and Rates are managed from Singapore, while credit, stocks and investment banking continue to have headquarters in Hong Kong

Photo by Fabio Bracht on Unsplash

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