Nomura Holdings (NMR), the Japanese megabank that owns the remnants of Lehman Brothers' overseas operations, says it's raising $5.6 billion (well, ¥511 billion, actually) to expand in the United States and elsewhere. Nomura, Japan's largest brokerage, plans to sell about 800 million shares in Japan and internationally, and use the money for investments and loans to its subsidiaries.

Nomura Chief Executive Officer Kenichi Watanabe has long made clear his interest in beefing up the firm's American business. But last year, after purchasing Lehman's Asian and European units, Nomura lost out to Barclays Plc. in an attempt to buy Lehman Brothers Holdings in the U.S.

Other Japanese banks have recently made similar moves into the U.S. market, including Mitsubishi UFJ, which took a major stake in Morgan Stanley last fall. For foreign financial firms, the American market, always an area of significant investment, has been looking pretty sweet of late, as it's filled with assets available at fire sale prices and more than a few neutered banks. Growth isn't likely to come anytime soon in Japan, still struggling through its own economic recovery.

Nomura, which had its first quarterly profit in two years this spring, has yet to fully recover from last year's losses in trading, investments in Iceland, and money it gave to Bernie Madoff (yes, really). In March, it raised ¥280 billion, its first share sale in two decades. Still, if the U.S. economy in the 2010s ends up looking like Japan in the 1980s, as some analysts predict, Nomura and other Japanese firms could be at an advantage here in the years to come.

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