* Nomura's first dollar bond sales, aims to grow in U.S.
* 5-yr notes at 5 pct interest, 10-year notes at 6.7 pct
* Dollar bond sale not common among Japanese firms
* Nomura raised $7 billion through share sales last yr (Recasts with company announcement and changes dateline)
By Junko Fujita
TOKYO, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Nomura Holdings Inc , Japan's largest brokerage, said on Friday it would raise $3 billion in its first ever sale of dollar-denominated bonds to help fuel its expansion in the United States.
Nomura bought the Asian and European operations of failed Wall Street bank Lehman Brothers in 2008 in a push overseas, but it let Barclays grab Lehman's U.S. arm and has been looking to expand in the United States on its own.
The move follows new share issuance of about $7 billion in 2009, and it recently raised another 1.25 billion euros in a bond sale.
Nomura, which announced plans on Thursday to sell dollar bonds but did not disclose the amount, said it would sell $1.5 billion in five-year bonds and another $1.5 billion in 10-year notes.
The bonds are priced higher than what it would cost Nomura to raise money in Japan, underscoring the broker's ambitions to become a major player in the United States, home to the world's largest bond and equities markets.
"Nomura is raising money where it is doing business. Through the sale Nomura wants to make its name recognised among local investors," said Yasuhiro Matsumoto, senior analyst at Shinsei Securities fixed income research.
Nomura's Chief Operating Officer Takumi Shibata said in December the broker had boosted its U.S. headcount to about 1,300 from 720 in April, and that it expected the number to reach 1,600 by March 2010.
Last year Nomura hired senior bankers to lead its stock and debt trading business in the United States, and also regained its status as a primary dealer of U.S. Treasuries.
Automakers such asMotor Corp and Motor Co have sold bonds in the United States through their financing arms, but it is not a common fundraising method for Japanese firms.
Nomura's 5-year bonds will pay 5 percent interest, yielding 275 basis points more than comparable U.S. Treasuries. The 10-year notes offer 6.7 percent interest, for a 310 point spread.
Shinsei's Matsumoto said if Goldman Sachs Group Inc were to sell five-year bonds denominated in yen in Japan, the bonds would probably yield 100 to 150 basis points more than Japanese government bonds with a similar maturity. (Additional reporting by Caryn Trokie in New York; Editing by Theodore d'Afflisio and Nathan Layne)