Ant Capital approaches fifth fundraise

The Tokyo-based firm made its sixth investment in March from its fourth vehicle with the acquisition of a Japanese seasonings manufacturer.

Tokyo-based Ant Capital Partners is planning to start fundraising for its fifth buyout fund in its Catalyser series in the autumn, Private Equity International has learned.

The target will be around $300 million, more than double the size of its previous vehicle, and is expected to be open to both local and international investors.

The firm is still investing through Ant Catalyzer No.4 Private Equity Investment Fund, a 2010-vintage vehicle that closed on JPY 13 billion ($117 million; €102 million), according to PEI Research & Analytics. Investors in that fund, which targets investments in mid-market Japanese companies, include Norinchukin Bank and Mitsubishi Corporation.

Ant Capital declined to comment on any fundraising plans.

At the end of March, Fund IV made its sixth investment with the acquisition of 100 percent of Marusaya Company, a Japanese family-owned seasonings manufacturer and wholesalers, the firm said. Marusaya was founded more than 40 years ago and makes natural seafood and vegetable-based seasonings used in Japanese cooking, which it sells to restaurants and specialty cooking shops.

Among Fund IV’s other investments are 140-year-old shoe manufacturer MoonStar Company and health snack company Sokan, as well as Shizuoka-based building material retailer Maruhon, B2B hotel reservation website Appleworld and Tokyo-based rental guarantor company Casa, as previously reported by PEI.

The firm focuses on local businesses with scope for operational improvements and overseas expansion. It targets undermanaged, overlooked and underinvested SMEs with an enterprise value of $20-$250 million with stable cashflows in sectors including consumer retail, light manufacturing and business services.

Its secondaries group closed its latest vehicle on JPY 27 billion earlier in the year. It focuses on direct secondaries, taking minority stakes in unlisted Japanese small and medium sized businesses, and acquiring LP fund stakes.

The group has invested in more than 100 Japanese companies since it established its first secondaries fund in 2003, according to its website.