Japanese bank Nomura has agreed to acquire the European and Middle Eastern investment banking and equities operations of Lehman, promising to secure jobs for most of the 2,500 staff.
But Nomura is not acquiring any of the European trading or other assets of the bank, understood to total a similar size, and it is not yet known what will happen to those operations. PricewaterhouseCoopers, the administrator of Lehman’s European operations following the bank’s spectacular collapse last week, did not immediately comment.
Back office and IT staff in Lehman’s European investment and equities business are likely to be encouraged by Nomura’s assertions that a “significant proportion” of the overall workforce will be retained.
A spokesperson at Nomura said the bank’s plans were to quickly restart the investment banking and equities operations, and that it would not make large changes immediately. In the longer term, however, Nomura is expected to reassess efficiencies.
Kenichi Watanabe, chief executive at Nomura, which also bought the Asian operations of Lehman just days ago, said: “Our immediate priority is to get the [Europe and Middle East] equity and investment banking divisions back in business operating under the Nomura name."
Earlier today, PwC moved to allay fears of mass back office job cuts at the bank. “Keeping jobs continuing at Lehman is a priority for us,” a spokesperson told Computerworld UK.
But rumours were continuing to circulate that cuts could come from back office operations. It was speculated that the numbers of staff featured in any deal would depend on back-office requirements during ongoing work.
Last week, unions said they would step up campaigns for back office and IT staff working in the financial services industry, adding that the sector was typically under-represented.
Ralph Silva, senior analyst at financial services advisory firm Tower Group, said in the immediate aftermath of Lehman Brothers’ collapse and the dramatic takeover of Merrill Lynch by Bank of America, that staff working in centralised back offices at large banks “have to be worried”.
In general, he said, there could be a drive by banks to cut costs and outsource work.