Natixis to Increase Japan Staff by 50% in Asian Expansion Push

Apr 03, 2014 12:12 am ET

April 3 (Bloomberg) -- Natixis SA, the investment-banking arm of France’s second-largest bank by branches, plans to increase employees at its Japanese unit by 50 percent as part of efforts to boost revenue from abroad.

The unit of Groupe BPCE aims to hire about 20 people in Japan this year to bring the total to 60, Laurent Mignon, chief executive officer of Paris-based Natixis, said in an interview in Tokyo on March 28. The recruits will help the firm spur sales of fixed-income and equity products, including derivatives, to local clients through Japanese financial institutions, he said.

Natixis set targets in November to increase revenue from its main businesses to 8 billion euros ($11 billion) in 2017 as it focuses on operations including wholesale banking and asset management and recovers from the 2008 global financial crisis. The goal involves expanding revenue from overseas to more than half of the total from about 44 percent last year.

“A significant part of the growth will come from developing our international business,” said Mignon, 50. “In Asia, we have made a particular focus on our Japanese operations.”

In Japan, Natixis has already recruited employees from firms including Barclays Plc, BNP Paribas SA and JPMorgan Chase & Co., Mignon said. The CEO was in Tokyo to meet with financial institutions that may sell or distribute more of its products.

Natixis has nine salespeople in its Tokyo office now compared with three a year ago, Francois Riahi, head of the bank’s Asia-Pacific investment-banking arm, said in the same interview. Recent recruits include a head of debt capital markets to sell Samurai bonds and uridashi products, he said.

Largest Samurai

Samurai bonds are yen-denominated notes issued by foreign borrowers, and uridashi refers to securities that are issued overseas and sold to individual investors in Japan. Groupe BPCE itself undertook Japan’s largest Samurai bond deal last year when it sold 131.6 billion yen ($1.3 billion) of debt.

Revenue at Natixis’s Japan unit climbed 70 percent last year, accounting for 18 percent of the total for the Asia- Pacific region, Laurent Girault, president of the Japan unit, said by phone today. The firm aims to get 40 percent of its Asian revenue from the country within three years, he said.

Natixis, which had the biggest net losses of any French bank following the September 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., pared its overseas capital-market activities and has been profitable every quarter since mid-2009. The company said in November that it cut risk-weighted assets by 43 percent from the end of 2008. It continued reducing its workforce over the past two years, according to its annual report.

Net income jumped 22 percent to 1 billion euros in 2013, beating the 950 million-euro average estimate of eight analysts. Net revenue from its three main businesses of wholesale banking, investment solutions and specialized financial services rose 5 percent to 6.4 billion euros.