(Updates with comment from Okazawa in the fourth paragraph.)
Oct. 24 (Bloomberg) -- BNP Paribas SA, France’s biggest bank, said it plans to recruit about 10 analysts, traders and sales staff by March 31 to expand its Japanese equity operations.
BNP Paribas today hired Yoshitsugu Yamamoto from UBS AG as a Tokyo-based analyst of the semiconductor industry, said Kyoya Okazawa, 41, head of global equities and commodity derivatives at BNP Paribas Securities (Japan) Ltd.
The Paris-based bank is bolstering its coverage of Japanese stocks even after a record earthquake and Europe’s sovereign debt crisis sent the benchmark Topix index 18 percent lower since March 11. Okazawa, who has hired more than 20 staff since joining the French bank from Credit Suisse Group AG in March, said investors will focus on Japanese companies as they expand in Asia and shrug off 20 years of economic stagnation at home.
“Companies in the country will be a model for other Asian and European firms after tackling bad loans and surviving severe business conditions over the past two decades,” he said in an interview in Tokyo today.
The bank will hire Takeo Kamai and Jason Talbot from Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch Japan Securities Co. unit as traders based in Tokyo, Okazawa said. It also plans to recruit three analysts for the commodity, technology and machinery industries and three sales staff in Tokyo and abroad, he added.
BNP Paribas began boosting its Japanese equity operations in April 2010, when it hired about 20 people from KBC Groep NV’s Tokyo-based unit. In July, the French bank recruited Kunihiko Kanno as co-head of equity research in Japan and Shun Maruyama to run equity strategy.
Earlier this year, it hired Toyoki Sameshima, a former analyst at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., to analyze Japanese banks and Koichi Sugimoto, a former analyst at Bank of America, to cover the auto industry.
BNP’s Japanese business posted a loss of 1.8 billion yen ($24 million) for the year ended March 31, compared with a profit of 14.2 billion yen a year earlier, according to a statement filed to the Financial Services Agency. It had about 500 staff as of March 31.
Okazawa, who joined Credit Suisse in 2001 as the head of international equity sales, said Asian investors are attracted to the Japanese stock market because it is relatively easier to trade shares there than elsewhere in the region.
“The Japan market has the highest liquidity among Asian markets, which enables investors to hedge and to get in and get out,” he said.
--Editors: Russell Ward, James Gunsalus
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