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UPDATE 1-Nomura appoints new wholesale head as Ashley steps down

(Adds background on Willcox, Nomura)

Sept 21 (Reuters) - Nomura Holdings Corp will replace the veteran head of its wholesale business, Steven Ashley, who was named chairman of its new digital asset company, the Japanese investment firm said on Wednesday.

Christopher Willcox will be appointed head of the wholesale division and executive officer from October 1, Nomura said in a statement. Ashley has been named chairman of Laser Digital Holdings AG, it said.

Willcox joined Nomura in May last year and is currently CEO and president of three of its businesses: Nomura Holding America, Nomura Securities International and Nomura Global Financial Products Inc, it said.

Willcox was brought in to beef up Nomura's U.S. management team as the bank was grappling with the fall-out from a $2.9 billion loss from the collapse of U.S. investment fund Archegos.

Before Nomura, Willcox was CEO of JP Morgan Asset Management and had an earlier career at Citigroup.

Nomura this year laid out an ambitious target to increase pretax income by as much as 90% in three years. Japan's biggest brokerage and investment bank has had a troubled history in attempts to expand globally and has occasionally taken major hits, including the 2021 loss related to Archegos. (Reporting by Jaiveer Singh Shekhawat in Bengaluru and David Dolan in Tokyo; editing by Jason Neely and Chizu Nomiyama)