Ja­panese banks have been a long-run­ning joke on Wall Street. One Greek-amer­i­can banker with a taste for the glory days of fnance aims to change all that.

Forbes - - Investing - By an­toine gara

We want to be the new face of Wall Street,” booms John Koudou­nis, CEO of Mizuho Se­cu­ri­ties USA, an arm of Ja­pan’s sec­ond-largest bank by as­sets, Mizuho Fi­nan­cial Group. From his mid­town Man­hat­tan ofce Koudou­nis pro­ceeds to rat­tle of a litany of cap­i­tal mar­kets wins: “We are top ten in in­vest­ment-grade credit and as­set-backed se­cu­ri­ties. We have had 147 lead man­ager man­dates,” he says, re­fer­ring to win­ning new busi­ness in the last year and his frm’s con­se­quen­tial dou­bling of rev­enues, with over $300 mil­lion in bond-un­der­writ­ing fees. “We are the new face of the top ten in­vest­ment banks. Peo­ple are look­ing over their shoul­ders.”

Rest as­sured that Gold­man, Jpmor­gan and other gi­ants of fnance are not about to throw in the towel, but Koudou­nis—a 49-year-old, 275pound for­mer col­lege foot­ball line­backer—can be quite con­vinc­ing. In 2008 Mizuho was the laugh­ing­stock of the bond world, best known for bet­ting and los­ing $7 bil­lion on sub­prime mort­gage pools, in­clud­ing one named Aard­vark.

Seven years later Mizuho Se­cu­ri­ties USA is back, says Koudou­nis, with $50 bil­lion in as­sets and 700 employees, and grow­ing fast. Koudou­nis is one of the few CEOS on Wall Street’s sell side with any­thing close to a growth plan. His Amer­i­can peers are still slash­ing head count and shut­ter­ing busi­nesses. In Europe delever­ag­ing re­mains the modus operandi, and a wave of CEO frings from Lon­don (Bar­clays) to Frank­furt (Deutsche Bank) is caus­ing frms to re­trench.

Over a meal of Dover sole and iced tea in the Grill Room of the Four Sea­sons Restau­rant on a rainy Tues­day in Novem­ber, Koudou­nis tries to ham­mer the point home. He ar­rives at ex­actly 12:30 p.m.—pre­cisely the mo­ment when the Four Sea­sons’ myth­i­cal “power lunch” is sup­posed to be­gin in­side the Philip John­son and Mies van der Rohe-de­signed French-wal­nut­pan­eled din­ing room. Koudou­nis, a gre­gar­i­ous Chicagoan of Greek de­scent, strides in wear­ing a loud navy suit with thick gray pin­stripes, a red tie and a match­ing pocket square.

He takes his seat among a gag­gle of ag­ing bil­lion­aire fnanciers: Leon Black, Michael

Wall Street’s lat­est heavy­weight con­tender: John Koudou­nis of Mizuho Se­cu­ri­ties USA.

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