01 Apr 2001
Tatsuyuki Saeki: Putting Stock in New Options at Nasdaq Japanby Alejandro ReyesTopics:
After 35 years with IBM, Tatsuyuki Saeki could have chosen to put his feet up and
relax — perhaps after a few rounds of golf. But that just isn’t Ted
Saeki’s style. Instead, the feisty 60-year-old veteran executive has started a
second career as president and CEO of Nasdaq Japan, Inc., an offshoot of the wildly
successful American technology stock market. Launched last year as a joint venture
between the U.S. Nasdaq, Japan’s Softbank Corporation, and thirteen leading
Japanese and foreign brokerages, Nasdaq Japan aims to break the stranglehold of the
dominant financial market in Tokyo by providing new opportunities for Japanese
investors and wider access to equity capital for emerging Japanese companies.
In short, Saeki is challenging the old-boy network and forcing Japan’s
button-down business culture to change. “My real purpose is not to harm or
destroy the securities industry in this country but to encourage it to be more
competitive,” he explains. What Saeki is bringing to Japan is Nasdaq’s
emphasis on good governance and transparency. “We force issuers to disclose
accurate information quarterly,” he explains. Many established corporations have
been lukewarm to Saeki’s message, but some young entrepreneurs are picking up on
it — Nasdaq Japan listed forty companies last year.
With only 10 percent of private investors participating in the securities market,
Saeki sees enormous room for growth. “This country still has a lot of
traditional rules” that discourage individuals from buying stocks, he notes.
Minimum prices for shares, for example, put equities out of the reach of many. But by
convincing the government to liberalize regulations, Saeki hopes to win public
confidence and pull in more players. The Internet, which allows investors greater
access to corporate information and forces companies to be more open, will help.
Still, Saeki knows he has his work cut out for him. “Nasdaq has been very
successful in the United States and is now eyeing global trading,” he notes.
“It’s a great strategy that will fly. But changing the securities industry
in Japan and negotiating with the government here is a nightmare.” So much for a