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Business deals

Nomura to buy Greentech in 1st foreign M&A since Lehman

US-based advisory firm specializes in renewable energy

Nomura Holdings looks to leverage growing interest in ESG investment for its overseas expansion.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japan's Nomura Holdings will buy a U.S. mergers and acquisitions advisory firm specializing in renewable energy, Nikkei has learned, marking its first overseas acquisition since its purchase of Lehman Brothers operations after the global financial crisis.

An agreement to acquire Greentech Capital Advisors, estimated at more than 10 billion yen ($92 million), is set to be announced as early as this week. The firm, founded in 2009, has advised companies on mergers, acquisitions and other transactions in such fields as solar and wind power and next-generation vehicles.

Greentech has an established presence in a field where M&A activity is picking up as investors and businesses pay closer attention to environmental, social and governance factors. Nomura looks to use the acquisition to jump-start a renewed overseas expansion, after years of focusing on its home market following its failed bid to become a top global player after the 2008 crisis.

Though Greentech focuses mainly on the U.S., working with Nomura will help it expand into Asia and Europe. The deal will also enhance Nomura's own M&A advisory business in Japan, where it now ranks second after Goldman Sachs.

Nomura previously tried to expand its global reach after the financial crash by acquiring the Asian and European operations and staff of Lehman following its bankruptcy. But that bet failed to pay off, and the brokerage ultimately wrote off all remaining goodwill on the purchase last fiscal year.

In 2016, Nomura spent $1 billion for a 41% stake in asset-management firm American Century Investments. But building up its investment banking business in the U.S. -- a market where Nomura is relatively weak -- has been a challenge.

Japan's largest brokerage has laid out plans to use M&A advisory and capital-raising services to shore up its overseas operations. Greentech's focus on the fast-growing field of ESG investment made it a particularly promising target for this effort.

Nomura recently decided to tap Kentaro Okuda, its former head of U.S. operations and a Wharton School alumnus, as its next president and CEO in a sign of its strategic pivot abroad.

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