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

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Nomura’s head of trading and investment banking, Steve Ashley, is resign from his current role to lead the company’s new digital asset subsidiary, Laser Digital Holdings AG. Nomura’s crypto-centric unit will focus on institutional investors, with the company viewing the new business as an “essential” way to boost profits.

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

Japanese financial services firm Nomura has announced that its head of investment banking, Steve Ashley, is stepping down from leading the company’s digital asset business. Nomura’s new crypto unit, Laser Digital Holdings, will be based in Switzerland.

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

The decision follows that of Nomura announced earlier this year to create a “new digital asset company that will offer institutional clients a full range of trading services, investment products and investments”. These products and services include cryptocurrencies, stablecoins, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and other digital assets, Nomura said.

Ashley’s role as head of Nomura’s wholesale business will transition to Christopher Willcox, who joined the company last year as co-CEO of the company’s US subsidiary following the collapse of Archegos, a family office that managed Bill Hwang’s funds. Nomura Wholesale Unit suffered a loss of $2.9 billion of its dealings with the defunct company, which led to the suspension of some of its leaders.

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

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Nomura’s Crypto Push Is a ‘Critical Part’ of Company’s Attempts to Generate Profits, Says CEO

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

Company CEO Kentaro Okuda described Nomura’s foray into the digital asset 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 suffering another dip earlier this week ahead of the Fed’s new interest rate hike later today to bring down runaway inflation. Bitcoin and Ether are down more than 50% over the past six months.

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

About the Author

Tim Fries is the co-founder of The Tokenist. He has a B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Tim was a senior partner on the investment team in the US Private Equity division of RW Baird and is also a co-founder of Protective Technologies Capital, an investment firm specializing in detection, protection and control solutions.


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