Mizuho Expands US Equity Research as Wall Street Rivals Retreat

Mizuho Financial Group Inc. plans to add to its US equity research desk to complement the bank’s acquisition of Greenhill & Co. last year, in a rare expansion of a business that’s been shrinking across Wall Street firms for at least a decade.

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(Bloomberg) — Mizuho Financial Group Inc. plans to add to its US equity research desk to complement the bank’s acquisition of Greenhill & Co. last year, in a rare expansion of a business that’s been shrinking across Wall Street firms for at least a decade. 

Mizuho Expands US Equity Research as Wall Street Rivals Retreat Back to video

Japan’s third-largest bank plans to hire analysts to boost coverage in sectors including energy, healthcare, and industries, said Shuji Matsuura, head of Mizuho Americas, in an interview. The lender employs more than 100 in equity research globally. 

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“We have pretty much enough,” equity capital markets bankers, said Matsuura. “We are wondering how much we should expand coverage of equity research in our sales and trading.”

Mizuho’s research ambitions are the latest example of its push, along with Japanese rivals, to gain a foothold in the US. The move is part of the bank’s efforts to beef up its equity sales to match its equity underwriting, Matsuura said. Last year, the firm acquired New York-based investment bank Greenhill in a $550 million deal to offer more advice on global mergers.

A bank spokesperson declined to specify how many analysts it might hire, adding that Mizuho is continuing to build out its equity research capabilities under Darlene Pasquill, who took over as head of the equity division at Mizuho Americas in 2018. 

Earlier this month, it hired Bill Featherston from Credit Suisse as managing director and head of Americas research. John Roberts, another senior analyst from the Swiss bank, joined in November to cover the chemicals sector. In total, the firm has around 3,500 employees in the Americas, including Greenhill.

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While equity analysts have long supplied company research that helped to attract business with hedge funds and asset managers, their numbers have been shrinking thanks to technological advances, falling trade commissions and a boom in index investing. In the decade through 2022, analyst headcount at a group of 12 major investment banks shrank by about one third to just under 3,000, according to data from Coalition Greenwich.

UBS Group AG’s acquisition of rival Credit Suisse risks further reducing that headcount, even though it has bolstered its own research by taking on senior analysts from its Swiss rival. Citigroup Inc. is reported to be planning to lay off around 20 equity researchers in Asia-Pacific.

Elsewhere, Mizuho may lift teams from other banks specialized in “exotic products” in fixed-income and equity if opportunities present themselves, said Matsuura, without providing more detail.

As an example of such hiring, he said Mizuho took on Credit Suisse traders including Serena Lin and Lyndon Pereira last year. They are specialized in trading and market-making in agency mortgage-backed securities, which are debt issued by government-sponsored enterprises such as Fannie Mae, according to Mizuho.

Dealmaking Trend

Advising on deals and capital markets transactions is set to be a much bigger contributor to Mizuho’s revenue after it acquired Greenhill to scale up its dealmaking heft, adding strength in retail, telecom and media.

Some Wall Street chiefs are finally pointing to signs of a turnaround after a dealmaking drought that has plagued their earnings for the past two years, as heavy costs of borrowing put brakes on fundraising, acquisitions and other corporate activities.

Matsuura expects volatility ahead in the US to put a damper on a budding recovery for the business, though he said it may boost equity and fixed-income trading. Still, the bank is readying for an eventual pickup in mergers & acquisitions, such as from Japanese companies hunting for growth opportunities in the world’s largest economy, he said.

“It’s a difficult year to predict.” Matsuura said. “There are many possible scenarios for macro economic trends. There is a presidential election and major geopolitical agendas.” 

—With assistance from Justina Lee.

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Japan's Mizuho hikes profit forecast on robust economic outlook


A pedestrian is reflected in a sign showing the logo of the Mizuho Financial Group Inc. outside its headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, May 15, 2015. REUTERS/Yuya Shino/File Photo

TOKYO :Mizuho Financial Group on Monday revised up its profit forecast for the full year due to a weaker yen and rosier outlook for the economy, as the world's third-largest economy approached monetary policy normalisation.

For the full year through March, the third-largest Japanese lender raised its profit forecast to 640 billion yen (US$4.22 billion) from 610 billion yen, outpacing the 625.56 billion yen average estimate of 14 analysts compiled by LSEG.

The revision comes as "certainty of exceeding the previous profit target has increased," Chief Executive Officer Masahiro Kihara told a media briefing.

Mizuho expects a 35 billion yen boost to its annual income if Japan's policy rate is raised to 0per cent from -0.1per cent and 10-year Japanese government bond yields rise by 0.10per cent.

Mizuho's second-quarter net profit dipped 2.4per cent from the same period a year earlier to 170.56 billion yen (US$1.12 billion).

The main lending business stayed strong as economic activity continued to normalise from the COVID-19 pandemic, helping the bank press down credit costs.

Its U.S. business also contributed to the solid earnings as rapid rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve bolstered the lender's income from loans. A weak yen inflated profits earned overseas when converted into yen.

The U.S. investment banking business emerged as a big driver as it won a key role in the US$4.87 billion initial public offering of chip designer Arm Holdings in September.

The Japanese bank was one of the four lead underwriters for this year's biggest IPO, along with Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Barclays.

Aiming for a bigger share of the world's largest investment-banking fee pool, Mizuho is completing the US$550 million acquisition of U.S. boutique mergers & acquisitions (M&A) advisory firm Greenhill.

"After building our position in debt capital markets, we have beefed up our presence in equity capital markets, to an extent we won a role in the Arm IPO," Kihara said.

"Our missing piece was M&A advisory, to be filled by Greenhill," he said. "We'll now focus on post-merger integration for a further expansion."

(US$1 = 151.6700 yen)

(Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; Editing by Kim Coghill and Bernadette Baum)

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