Banking giant Nomura launches crypto VC unit

Quick Take

  • Nomura Holdings is set to launch a crypto VC unit as part of its new digital assets business. 
  • The unit, named Laser Venture Capital, will invest in startup categories including DeFi and blockchain infrastructure.

Nomura, one of Japan's biggest investment banks, is launching a new venture capital unit to invest in the crypto space.

Dubbed Laser Venture Capital, the unit will invest in companies in the digital ecosystem, with a focus on decentralized finance (DeFi), centralized finance (CeFi), web3 and blockchain infrastructure, Nomura announced Wednesday.

Laser Venture Capital will be the first product to launch from Nomura's new digital assets business, which has been named today as Laser Digital. The bank plans two further launches, around secondary trading and investor products.

Nomura first announced its plans to create a new crypto company in May. At the time, it said the unit will provide institutional clients and investors with products and services linked to cryptocurrencies, stablecoins, DeFi, NFTs and other tokens. The bank has incorporated the holding company for its crypto business, Laser Digital Holdings AG, in Switzerland.

"Staying at the forefront of digital innovation is a key priority for Nomura," Kentaro Okuda, Nomura's president and group CEO, said in a statement. 

Steven Ashley and Jez Mohideen will run Nomura's Laser Digital crypto business as chairman and CEO, respectively. As part of the new role, Ashley has stepped down from his previous role as the bank's head of wholesale division.

Ashley joined Nomura in 2010. Okuda said in a separate statement that Ashley's leadership will be "critical to the growth and success of our new digital asset business."

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