Nomura’s Head of Investment Banking to Lead Firm’s New Crypto Business
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Nomura’s Head of Investment Banking to Lead Firm’s New Crypto Business

Japanese brokerage firm Nomura's head of investment banking is stepping down to lead the company's new crypto business.
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Nomura’s trading and investment banking chief Steve Ashley is stepping down from his current role to take the helm of the company’s new digital asset subsidiary, Laser Digital Holdings AG. Nomura’s crypto-focused unit will focus on institutional investors, with the firm seeing the new business as a “critical” way to boost profits.

Nomura’s New Digital Assets Unit to Offer Services Related to Crypto, Stablecoins and NFTs

Japanese financial services firm Nomura announced its head of investment banking Steve Ashley is stepping down from his duty to lead the firm’s digital asset business. Nomura’s newly-established crypto unit, Laser Digital Holdings, will be based in Switzerland.

The move means that Ashley will take the chairman role at the crypto business, which will focus on providing institutional investors with access to crypto-related products and services. The head of the crypto subsidiary Jez Mohideen will become the CEO of Laser Digital Holdings, according to Bloomberg.

The decision follows Nomura’s announcement earlier this year to set up a “new digital asset company that will offer institutional clients a comprehensive suite of trading, investor products, and investment services.” These products and services include cryptocurrencies, stablecoins, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and other digital assets, said Nomura.

Ashley’s duty as Nomura’s head of wholesale business will be transferred to Christopher Willcox, who joined the company last year as co-CEO of the firm’s American subsidiary following the collapse of Archegos, a family office that used to manage Bill Hwang’s funds. Nomura’s wholesale unit suffered a $2.9 billion loss from its dealings with the defunct company, which led to a suspension of some of its executives.

Despite its challenges last year, Nomura remains the largest brokerage in Japan. Last month, Japanese regulators said they are considering amending tax rules to boost local crypto startups.

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Nomura’s Crypto Push is a “Critical Part” of Firm’s Attempts to Drive Profits, says CEO

Nomura’s initial push into crypto was when the company said it started offering bitcoin over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives in May this year. The move came shortly after crypto prices started declining due to the tough macroeconomic environment and geopolitical tensions.

The firm’s CEO Kentaro Okuda described Nomura’s foray into the digital assets space as a “critical part” of the company’s efforts to boost profits. He said Ashley’s leadership “will be critical to the growth and success of our new digital asset business.”

The crypto market continues to face headwinds after taking another fall earlier this week ahead of the Fed’s another interest rate hike later today to bring down rampant inflation. Bitcoin and Ether are down more than 50% in the past six months.

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Do you think more traditional financial institutions will follow Nomura and foray into digital assets this year? Let us know in the comments below.