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9 Kenichi Watanabe

When Lehman Brothers collapsed last year, Nomura CEO Kenichi Watanabe promptly acquired the bank’s international operations for $225 million — and committed to paying an additional ¥140 billion ($1.5 billion) in bonuses to keep the Lehman bankers on board.

Kenichi WatanabeIt was what the Japanese might call daitanfuteki — daring. When Lehman Brothers collapsed last year, Nomura CEO Kenichi Watanabe promptly acquired the bank’s international operations for $225 million — and committed to paying an additional ¥140 billion ($1.5 billion) in bonuses to keep the Lehman bankers on board.

At a stroke, Watanabe, 56, boosted Nomura’s head count by nearly 50 percent, to more than 25,000. And in December, Nomura said it would spend almost half of the nearly $5 billion the firm had raised in October to boost its U.S. presence in a bid to achieve Watanabe’s goal of becoming a true global investment bank.

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