Nomura deal saves 2,500 London jobs

Nomura signalled its intention to become a major force in European investment banking yesterday after acquiring Lehman Brothers' London equities and investment banking business in a deal that will save 2,500 jobs.

Japan's biggest investment bank said the mistakes made by international rivals had allowed it to fulfil its long-held ambition of becoming a major player in Europe. The bank will hire just over 2,500 Lehman employees, with the vast majority to be based at the bankrupt US bank's office at Canary Wharf in London's Docklands. The deal leaves the future unresolved of about 2,000 staff in London, working in businesses such as fixed- income and asset management.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the administrator, said it had received "tentative" interest in these.

Nomura said it had taken on neither assets nor liabilities from Lehman's balance sheet and that the undisclosed price it had paid was "nominal".

Asked how big Nomura intended to become, Sadeq Sayeed, senior adviser to Nomura's board, said: "Big," adding that the mistakes of rivals had allowed Nomura to capitalise on its prudent balance-sheet management.

"Over the last 20 years, Nomura has not punched its weight in international markets. It has tried to buildbusinesses in international markets with varying degrees of success," Sayeed said. "We have been looking for opportunities outside Japan for some time... We have shown that speed is a characteristic we relish and change is something we are not afraid of." The acquisition of the business follows Nomura's $225m (£121m) takeover of Lehman's Asian operation the day before. The company beat Barclays to acquire the European equities unit because Nomura wanted to take on the investment banking business too.

The bigger the sale, the better for creditors because employee liabilities will be transferred to Nomura, PwC said. Nomura and Barclays have bought the lion's share of Lehman's assets since its bankruptcy last week.