• Jiji


Major European and American investment funds are boosting acquisitions of stakes in Japanese companies in anticipation of a full-fledged industrial realignment in the country amid the coronavirus crisis.

Hiroyuki Otsuka, deputy head for U.S. investment firm Carlyle Group Inc.’s operations in Japan, predicted that more and more firms will sell non-core operations as the crisis “should accelerate moves for change, such as digitization.”

Carlyle, which has been focusing on midsize Japanese firms, aims to invest hundreds of billions of yen in conglomerates this year, particularly seeking deals to acquire their subsidiaries and operations.

Even in the coronavirus-battered restaurant and tourism industries, the fund “will offer assistance if firms with good management resources are found,” Otsuka noted.

Blackstone Group Inc. of the United States plans to pour some ¥100 billion in Japan each year.

“We’ll be an active investor when a good deal comes up,” said Atsuhiko Sakamoto, head of the Japan investment division, set up in 2018, suggesting the possibility of the group spending more than it sets aside.

Blackstone is keeping a close watch on the pharmaceutical, logistics service and inbound tourism sectors, which are expected to recover after the virus crisis is over. The fund has already concluded a deal with Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. to acquire the leading drug maker’s over-the-counter medicine unit.

British private-equity fund Permira, which once acquired conveyor belt sushi restaurant chain Sushiro Global Holdings Ltd., is also looking for investment opportunities in the logistics and health care fields.

The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic “will appear over time in a complex way,” Ryotaro Fujii, Permira’s Japan operation chief, noted.

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., which has invested in auto parts supplier Calsonic Kansei Corp., now called Marelli Holdings Co., is also eyeing Japan as a major market.

Pointing out that continued massive quantitative easing by the central banks in Japan, Europe and the United States have made it easy to raise funds for investment, a financial market source said European and U.S. investment funds are expected to play greater roles in Japanese firms’ business realignment

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