Mizuho Financial Group plans to dramatically ramp up its expansion into private markets to tap growing demand from Japanese institutional investors, an echo of the boom that unfolded in the U.S. two decades ago, according to a top executive.

The lender’s $460 billion (¥68.1 trillion) money-management arm is considering buying a stake in a U.S. or European firm specializing in alternative investments, Noriyuki Sato, the head of asset management at Japan’s third-largest bank, said in an interview. The company aims to boost alternative assets under management fivefold to ¥20 trillion in less than 10 years, he said.

"Demand is really great,” Sato said, pointing to Japanese pension funds and regional banks. "It’s very similar to a situation in the U.S. around 2005, when money flooded into alternative assets.”