- Goldman Sachs managed to sell its Archegos positions quicker than others, including Nomura.
- Its analysts then downgraded Nomura's stock after the Japanese bank flagged a potential $2 billion hit.
- One market analyst said the Archegos affair showed the "cutthroat nature of the business."
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Goldman Sachs was quicker than its rivals at offloading billions of dollars of stock held by the imploding investment fund Archegos. Japanese banking giant Nomura wasn't so fast, according to reports, and is facing losses of around $2 billion in one of its arms.
Now, Goldman analysts have downgraded Nomura's shares, pronouncing on Tuesday: "We now think upside for the stock looks limited."
The analysts, led by Shinichiro Nakamura, also lowered their earnings forecasts for Nomura, saying: "We assume the company would look to adopt a generally more risk-focused or cautious approach."
The major banks that lent to Archegos Capital Management tried to reach an agreement last week when it became clear that Bill Hwang's fund was struggling to come up with cash to cover its bets, according to reports in the Financial Times and Bloomberg.
Yet those talks broke down, the reports said, and Goldman started selling huge blocks of Archegos' holdings in companies such as ViacomCBS on Friday, causing stock prices to tumble.
Michael Brown, senior market analyst at Caxton FX, said it was a case of "every bank for themselves." He added: "Unsurprisingly, [any agreement] quickly fell apart, such is the cut-throat nature of the business."
On Monday, it became clear Nomura had not been fast enough when it said it was facing "a significant loss arising from transactions with a US client."
Goldman, itself the heart of the action, swiftly downgraded Nomura's stock from "buy" to "neutral" on Tuesday.
"We lower our [earnings] estimates given Nomura's March 29 disclosure that it could book losses/provisions [of] approximately $2 billion," the analyst said.
Nomura Holdings was down around 19% for the week on Wednesday at 581 Japanese yen, roughly $5.25. Goldman's new 12-month target price is 630 yen.
Goldman said that if losses in the bank's prime brokerage business rise to $3-$4 billion, "we would see a possibility that the company could rein in shareholder distributions."
Nomura and Goldman Sachs both declined to comment.
JPMorgan now reckons the losses at certain banks involved with Archegos, such as Nomura and Credit Suisse, could be as high as $10 billion.
A person with knowledge of the situation said Goldman had "proactively managed" its risk and that its losses were "immaterial."
Brown said: "For now, it's a point to GS in this one."