Sumitomo Mitsui CEO Ohta, Visionary Leader Behind Asia’s Growth, Passes Away at 65

(Bloomberg) — Jun Ohta, the Chief Executive Officer of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc., passed away at the age of 65. During his four years leading Japan’s second largest bank, Ohta pursued an aggressive expansion abroad, focusing on full-banking services in key markets in Asia and bolstering the bank’s investment banking business in the US.

Ohta’s passing has prompted the company to announce that Deputy President Toru Nakashima will act as CEO for the time being, with a successor to be named. Ohta had been battling pancreatic cancer and had been absent from a recent earnings briefing due to health concerns.

In an industry dominated by tradition, Ohta was known for breaking the mold by advocating for a more relaxed office dress code and encouraging younger workers to establish in-house startups. His loss has been acknowledged by the Japanese Bankers Association, which praised his active role in the success of the financial industry.

Ohta’s impact on the banking world went far beyond Japan. He was among the first Japanese bank executives to publicly advocate for preparing for opportunities presented by rising interest rates, and he made significant strides to boost Sumitomo Mitsui’s digital efforts to attract younger, tech-savvy clients.

Despite dealing with economic challenges at home, Ohta led the bank to invest billions of dollars in several Asian nations, positioning the company for growth in the region. He was also responsible for increasing investment in Jefferies Financial Group Inc., paving the way for Sumitomo Mitsui’s soaring stock performance.

Ohta’s vision and foresight are evident through the bank’s rising stock prices, which have jumped 42% this year. Even as the bank reached new heights, improvements and expansions throughout his tenure have laid the foundation for future success.

Ohta’s legacy will undoubtedly be remembered through the impact he had on improving the banking industry, implementing innovative strategies, and defying traditional norms. His influence extended beyond his leadership as he left a lasting impression on the bank and the industry as a whole.

(Updates with statement from bank association in 13th paragraph)

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