BofA Merrill reshuffles Japan equities leadership

Head of Japan equities trading Eugene Iwami takes over the business as Abenomics helps to stoke a revival in Japanese equities.
Eugene Iwami
Eugene Iwami

Bank of America Merrill Lynch has changed the leadership of its Japan equities team, promoting head of Japan equities trading Eugene Iwami to sole head of the division, according to a memo seen by FinanceAsia.

Iwami takes over from Paddy Hogan, who has run the business for the last six years and is moving to New York to handle the US end of Japan sales and to increase financing revenues from US clients active in Asia, according to the memo.

BofA Merrill’s equities team in Japan previously had a co-head structure, with Hogan running things alongside Hiroyuki Kaneda, who will now become vice-chairman of Japan equities.

After years of torpor, Japan’s stock market has risen steadily in the last year — ever since Shinzo Abe announced his commitment to aggressively ease monetary policy in an election campaign that he went on to win by a landslide.

So-called Abenomics has been a windfall for banks in Japan. Before the rally took hold, many foreign-owned firms were cutting staff and reassessing the importance of Japan to their global businesses.

Deutsche Bank, for example, cut 45 staff from its Japan equities desk in September last year, just eight weeks before the Nikkei started a year-long rally that has seen the index rise from less than 9,000 to more than 14,000.

The rally has attracted international investors back to Japan and given banks a reason to start hiring again. BofA Merrill has added 12 to its Japan equity sales and trading team since June, including current head of Japan equity distribution and former Morgan Stanley banker Stephen O’Shea.

In his newly expanded role Iwami, who joined BofA Merrill as a graduate in New York in 1994, will remain the firm's head of Japan equities trading, reporting to regional head of equities trading Arnaud Droitcourt, the memo said.

Kaneda’s role is a new position. He will focus on enhancing BoA Merrill's key relationships with domestic clients in Japan and growing the business, the memo added.

Both Iwami and Kaneda will report to Olivier Thiriet, head of Asia-Pacific equities, and Jiro Seguchi, BofA Merrill’s country executive for Japan.

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