Japan Post Bank to start in-house stock investments

JIJI

Japan Post Bank plans to start in-house investments in stocks in the second half of 2016, according to Katsunori Sago, the bank’s vice president in charge of asset management.

The bank’s policy for more diversified and sophisticated asset management “will not be affected” by the recent slump of stock prices, Sago said in a recent interview.

“We need to take care not to let buying opportunities slip by” due to fears of investment risks, he said.

Japan Post Bank, the banking unit of Japan Post Holdings Co., plans to diversify investment targets to boost returns amid very low interest rates.

At the end of September 2015, the bank had approximately ¥205 trillion in assets under management, of which Japanese government bonds accounted for 45.2 percent. It makes stock investments through consignment to trust banks, but has stopped short of in-house investments due to lack of qualified personnel and computer systems.

“We hope to increase the number of employees involved in asset management by at least 30 percent in the next 18 months to two years” from the current level of about 100, Sago said.

Sago joined Japan Post Bank as vice president in June 2015, after serving as vice president and vice chairman of Goldman Sachs Japan Co.

In the interview, Sago said the balance of the bank’s satellite portfolio, made up of corporate debt, stocks and foreign securities, will likely reach ¥60 trillion during fiscal 2016, which starts in April, ahead of its goal of the end of fiscal 2017.

The target balance, up from ¥48 trillion at the end of fiscal 2014, could be achieved by the end of March this year, depending on market conditions, he said.

Japan Post Bank plans to start private equity investments by the end of March at the earliest and no later than June, he said.

Sago expressed a positive attitude to working with regional banks to establish regional revitalization funds. Japan Post Bank is in talks with regional lenders, but none of them is close to an agreement, he said.