By GWEN MURANAKA, Rafu Editor-in-Chief
As the merger of Union Bank and US Bancorp is expected to close later this year, Kaz Koshi, Executive Chairman of Union Bank MUFG, said he is working to ensure a smooth transition in all aspects. .
“Doing it right, doing it in an orderly and transparent way for our customers, our communities and our colleagues is of critical importance to me,” Koshi said in an interview with The Rafu Shimpo.
Last September, Minneapolis-based US Bancorp announced the purchase of the bulk of MUFG Union Bank’s US banking unit. The deal is worth around $17.6 billion.
Based in New York, Koshi has over 30 years of experience working with MUFG and serves as Executive Chairman of the Boards of MUAH and MUB, as well as several separate positions for Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and for MUFG Bank, Ltd., its commercial banking subsidiary. In recent years, he has been engaged in its strategy in the Americas.
The setting for the interview was the Japanese American National Museum, one of several philanthropic institutions supported by Union Bank. The JANM 30and The April 30 anniversary gala is among the bank-sponsored events this year, along with the recent Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival.
Koshi shared that his sempai (seniors) of the bank often shared stories about the Bank of Tokyo of California, which opened its branch in Little Tokyo in 1952, with Matsujiro Takeshita as its first president. The bank was established shortly after the signing in 1951 of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, which restored peaceful relations between Japan and the Allied Powers.
“He couldn’t start his banking business without the support of the Japanese-American community, small individual businesses who returned from internment,” Koshi said. “So there really is value in having a bank that understands the Japanese American community. That was key. Bank of Tokyo California wouldn’t exist if that support hadn’t come.
Koshi said he now shares these stories with colleagues at US Bancorp, which was founded in 1863 and has more than 3,000 branches nationwide.
“Now the opportunity has come to share these stories with my colleagues at US Bank and they really appreciate this part. Because it was not well publicized during the negotiation mode of the deal. But after the announcing and signing the contract, I took every opportunity I had to speak about our heritage and the importance of this JA and Japanese community to Union Bank and its good business. for community relations, it’s a good business for us, because these customers are very loyal.
The current MUFG Union Bank website has a page dedicated to Japanese services, and there are Japanese-speaking representatives in Gardena, Irvine, Little Tokyo, Montebello, South Gardena, and Torrance.
“They pass their accounts from generation to generation. This story resonates with US Bank. I hope they continue the partnership we had with the community,” Koshi said.
The executive chairman said customers will benefit from better ATMs, better online and mobile banking, and more convenience with more branches across the country.
After the merger, MUFG’s strategy in the United States will be to focus on corporate investment banking.
“It’s a business that we also do globally in all relevant markets and, of course, the United States is a very important geographic area for this wholesale global corporate investment bank. There are a lot of opportunities for us to help customers grow, to help the economy to grow, to create jobs in this segment,” Koshi said.
“We think it’s a reset to focus on wholesale banking, but we’re doing it right, to focus on that to be a raw driver for MUFG. We’re also going to be partnering with US Bank for the business that we sold. There will be a commercial agreement, a strategic alliance, which is being discussed and negotiated (and) is expected to be finalized prior to closing that will allow US Bank and MUFG to collaborate in key markets, including the Japanese market.
When the merger was first announced, Reverend Brian Kensho Nagata of the Buddhist Church of Oakland shared his appreciation in a story for wheel of dharmathe newspaper of the Buddhist Churches of America, which spoke about the end of this relationship between Union Bank and the Japanese community.
“They supported the temple’s new year and year-end parties, kenjinkai picnics, cultural events, community projects and activities. Who does not remember the beautiful program covers, the wall calendars, the printing of countless raffle tickets, matchbooks, key rings, pens, golf balls and large clocks with the banking logos that temples always placed in our social halls? he wrote in the article.
Koshi emphasized that this was not the end, but rather the beginning of a new chapter, a message he also shared with BCA Bishop Marvin Harada.
“I told him that this movie had no end. I can say this is Chapter 1, and the next one is Chapter 2,” Koshi said.
“Maybe you’ve seen other movies where Japanese banks left and the movie ended, finished. This movie should have Chapter 2. Where MUFG-US Bank forms a partnership that continues to support the community .
He cited his sempai who served with MUFG and also supported the Japanese and Japanese American communities by participating in organizations such as JANM, Japanese American Cultural and Community Center and the US-Japan Council.
“I consider it part of my job to be the caretaker of this long-term relationship. I happen to be in that seat now, so it’s my responsibility to build on that foundation and pass it on to my successors in a solid way,” Koshi said.
“I don’t want to take personal credit for the relationships we have with organizations. It is the result of several decades and generations of great senpai who have invested in this relationship.