Asian Cover -- Financiers
JAPAN'S JUNICHI UJIIE (int'l edition)
With his intellectual bent, elegant attire, and taste for classical music, Junichi Ujiie is by no means your typical hard-drinking, sales-driven, Japanese brokerage-house executive. Yet that was precisely why he was sought after when scandal-tainted Nomura Securities Co. tapped Ujiie as its president a little more than a year ago, after Tokyo prosecutors stormed into the headquarters of Japan's No.1 brokerage. The raid unveiled a scandal that tied Nomura's top brass to Japanese gangsters.
Ujiie has apologized and promised to clean house, but his challenges remain enormous. He must restore Nomura's sullied reputation, fend off incursions from the likes of Merrill Lynch & Co. at home, and reposition the domestically focused broker as a global player. Fluent in English, the 52-year-old Ujiie earns high marks from his U.S. colleagues for his international outlook and self-effacing style.
Ujiie is already changing some enshrined Nomura ways. Wining and dining Japanese politicians and bureaucrats is a practice that has been banned under a new sales ethics code. If he can whip Nomura into shape it will be a big first step toward restoring faith in Japan financial markets.