Nomura hires former top UK Treasury official Tom Scholar as European chair

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Nomura has hired the Treasury’s former top civil servant Tom Scholar to chair its European operations, his first public role since he was sacked by former chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng ahead of the UK’s disastrous “mini” Budget last year.

Scholar will join Japan’s biggest investment bank on Friday, the lender said. He will replace former banking and insurance executive David Godfrey on several of Nomura’s European and UK boards in April.

“He has had a long and distinguished career in the British Civil Service and we will no doubt benefit from his extensive knowledge and understanding of the financial sector,” Nomura chief executive Kentaro Okuda said.

Scholar was removed as Treasury permanent secretary as one of the first actions of former prime minister Liz Truss’s government in September last year.

Truss had pledged war against so-called Treasury orthodoxy and “abacus economics”, of which Scholar was a totem after six years at the head of the department. He was later awarded a £335,000 payout for loss of office.

His firing sparked outrage among mandarins. Some complained privately that the Conservative administration was impugning the impartiality of the state’s most senior officials.

Scholar’s exit from the Treasury marked the end of a three-decade career in Whitehall. He worked on the government response to the 2008 financial crisis, the independence of the Bank of England, Brexit, and Covid-era emergency support schemes, including furlough. 

In October, it was reported that UK officials were advocating for him to return to a senior role at the World Bank under new president Ajay Banga, the ex-CEO of Mastercard. Scholar previously served as executive director of the IMF and the World Bank.

Banks are keen recruiters of senior UK public servants, prizing their political nous and access to policymakers. In 2020, Britain’s former top civil servant Mark Sedwill joined investment bank Rothschild & Co.

Nomura has had a chequered past in investment banking. It bought Lehman Brothers’ Asian and European assets in 2008 to try to compete with Wall Street giants such as JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs. The deal went badly wrong, sending its international division into a series of lossmaking years and deep cutbacks.

It is now pursuing a more modest strategy focused on dealmaking and financing of innovation, particularly related to the green transition and climate change.

Scholar said: “I am delighted to be taking on the role of chair, particularly at this pivotal moment for the Japanese economy.”

Scholar has sought permission from the advisory committee on business appointments, the body that vets roles taken up by former senior officials, for his new job with Nomura, according to a person familiar with the matter. The committee’s advice on the position, including any potential conditions, is expected to be published on Friday.

Additional reporting by Owen Walker


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