by Susan Fenton
YOJI OKABE, Managing Director, Sumitomo Bank Ltd.
Yoji Okabe, 54, is a director of Japan's largest bank, Sumitomo. Since 1984 he has been Managing Director of their London Branch supervising business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. This is his second time working in Britain as he previously spent four years in London as head of the bank's UK merchant banking arm.
Sumitomo has branches throughout Europe, but London is the most profitable centre for its activities which focus on government loans, treasury services and capital market transactions.
Corporate banking is Sumitomo's other major business and where it leads its main Japanese competitors. Its strength is that it has been in Europe longer than the other Japanese banks, having established an office in London 70 years ago, it first entered into UK corporate banking over 15 years ago.
As the only source of Japanese finance at that time, it was able to build up a strong customer base which it has maintained. It is only in the last five years that the other Japanese banks have moved in to challenge that position.
Europe now counts for 20 per cent of Sumitomo's business worldwide but it plans to bring more resources here in future. Its managers see the integration of the single market as a positive step which will improve the EC economies and create further business opportunities between Europe and Japan.
Other people chosen as 'Top Ten'
; Toshiaki Tsuchiya, Managing Director, Nissan(UK) Ltd., Noboru Nakazawa, Managing director, Nomura International Ltd., Shoichi Saba, Non-Executive Director, ICI, Akihiko Tembo, Managing Director, Idemitsu International (Europe) plc., Kenzo Takada, Fashion Designer, Koju Suzuki, Managing Director, Panasonic Europe Ltd., Naohiko Kumagai, Managing Director, Mitsui & Co (Eurpe)Ltd., Osamu Goto, Project Leader, Honda Formula-1, Yosuke Msuda, Managing Director, Kumagai-gumi(UK) Ltd.
(British Airway's Magazine "BUSINESS LIFE" No.21 issued July, 1989)