Yoshifumi Nishikawa

President and chief executive officer, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation

Nationality: Japanese.

Born: 1939, in Japan.

Education: Osaka University.

Career: Sumitomo Bank, 1997–2001, president; Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, 2001–, president; Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, 2002–, president and chief executive officer.

Address: Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, 1-2 Yurakucho 1-chome, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-0006, Japan; http://www.smfg.co.jp/english/index.html.

■ Yoshifumi Nishikawa was the president and chief executive officer of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and of its Mitsui Banking Corporation division. He successfully saw the bank through Japan's recession in the late 1990s, earning the admiration of his peers in the banking industry.


Nishikawa became president of Sumitomo Bank in 1997. In 2001 Mitsui Banking merged with Sakura Bank to become Sumitomo Mitsui Banking, with Nishikawa as its new president. In December 2002 Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group was formed, and Nishikawa became president and CEO of the group. His ascension was not easy.

In 1998 Sumitomo lost $4.5 billion. In a recovery effort, the bank received money from the government, considered an embarrassment. Nishikawa closed 40 branches of the bank, cut two thousand jobs, and sold off several executive recreational facilities. He combined these cost-cutting measures with a plan to focus the bank's efforts on small and mid-sized corporations, wholesale securities and services, and affluent individuals. To accommodate these goals, Nishikawa split the company into two: one division to focus on the corporations and one

Yoshifumi Nishikawa. © Haruyoshi Yamaguchi/Corbis.
Yoshifumi Nishikawa. ©
Haruyoshi Yamaguchi/Corbis

to focus on the retail customers. The most striking departure in these goals was removing the focus from large corporations and placing it on small and mid-sized corporations. The government money combined with Nishikawa's clear strategy paid off: The bank's stock nearly doubled in six months.


Other savvy decisions led to Nishikawa's success. He did not believe his securities subsidiary could compete with the U.S. and European markets, and he had to make his company more competitive. In 1999, in an effort to expand the bank's offerings, the newly created Sumitomo Securities division and the established Daiwa Securities Trust Company formed a joint venture, Daiwa SB Capital Markets, in which Sumitomo held a 40 percent stake. Sumitomo would provide cash to Daiwa, and Daiwa would provide Sumitomo with expertise. Such a venture would allow Sumitomo to continue to serve its corporate customers and to pull in customer base from Daiwa. It was a win-win situation for both companies.

Nishikawa was able to reach many of his goals, such as reducing the number of loans that were not providing enough profit. He also changed the location of many of Sumimoto's offices to areas where there would be high potential for new customers. The company offered many financial services to small and medium-sized companies to further expand their business. Nishikawa continued to focus on consumer banking needs as well as business needs. Sumitomo offered insurance products, home mortgages, and investment trusts to customers. In 2003 Goldman Sachs invested $1.26 billion in Sumitomo Mitsui. In exchange, Sumitomo Mitsui agreed to provide loans in the billions to Goldman Sachs for investment-grade clients. As in the previous venture with Daiwa, Goldman Sachs and Sumitomo Mitsui agreed "to enhance and develop business cooperation between the two organizations" wrote Fiona Haddock in Asiamoney . Investors believed Goldman Sachs had purchased a customer base in Japan, perhaps for its own means. However, with the government bank loans fresh in its memory, Sumitomo Mitsui welcomed private investments.


Six months ahead of goal, in February 2004, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking had reduced its bad loan ratio 50 percent. In addition, the bank reduced its outstanding bad loans to less than JPY3 trillion, another goal reached six months ahead of schedule. The poorly performing loans were restructured in a new venture with Daiwa Securities and Goldman Sachs.

Nishikawa said the move was intended to serve companies attempting to turn around and would further assist Sumitomo Mitsui in cleaning up its bad loans. The bank also strove to cut its shareholdings to minimize risk from the stock market. Like many companies, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking planned aggressive moves into China and other Asian countries. Those regions were poised for growth for years to come.

Nishikawa was raised in the Nara prefecture in western Honshu, the largest island of Japan, and in the 1960s graduated from Osaka University. He enjoyed gardening and was an avid fan of the Hanshin Tigers baseball team from Osaka.

See also entry on Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation in International Directory of Company Histories .

sources for further information

Haddock, Fiona, "Goldman/Sumitomo Mitsui Deal Shifts Landscape," Asiamoney , February 2003, p. 4.

"SMFG to Set Up Corporate Rehab Firm in November," Asia Africa Intelligence Wire, October 8, 2003.

Smith, Charles, "Asia's Most Influential Bankers," Institutional Investor (international edition), August 1999, p. 41.

"Sumitomo Mitsui Banking to Halve Shareholdings by End of FY 2005," Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News, December 19, 2003.

"Yoshifumi Nishikawa, President, Sumitomo Bank, Japan," BusinessWeek , June 14, 1999, p. 94.

—Deborah Kondek

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