Blackstone names ex-JPMorgan chair head of Japan

The New York-based firm is the latest global private equity firm to appoint a Japan head this year as it looks to expand its presence in the country.

Global private equity firm Blackstone has named Katsuyuki Kuki to be its chairman and executive director for Japan, with the firm expecting to tap Japanese institutional capital and cut more deals in the country.

Blackstone is currently raising capital for its first Asia-dedicated buyout fund which is targeting $2 billion.

Blackstone follows in the footsteps of its contemporaries who have recently appointed Japan heads, with KKR hiring Go Yamashita, a former managing director of Blackstone, to lead its capital markets team in June. While in May, CVC Capital Partners named Nobuaki Kurumatani, a former deputy president of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial, as president of its Japan operations.

Global private equity firms have in the last year ramped up their presence in Japan and snapped up assets ripe for corporate carve-outs and those that address the needs of its ageing population. This trend has seen domestic deal count increase by 22 percent, with 423 deals recorded in 2016 compared with 364 in 2015, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Major deals completed to date include KKR’s acquisition of auto parts maker Calsonic Kansei for $4.5 billion and Hitachi’s power tools unit for $1.3 billion, as well as CVC’s acquisition of Tokyo nursing home Hasegawa in October.

In his new role, Kuki will be responsible for all areas of Blackstone’s business in Japan which includes private equity and real estate.

“Katsuyuki Kuki brings a wealth of insight to Blackstone from his 30 years of experience as a senior leader in Japan’s financial services industry,” Stephen Schwarzman, chief executive and co-founder of Blackstone, said in a statement. “We look forward to his leadership and expertise in the country and greater Asia Pacific region, which is an increasingly important part of our business.”

Prior to Blackstone, Kuki was the chairman of banking at JPMorgan in Japan. Kuki also held senior leadership positions at UBS Securities Japan and Lehman Brothers where he was involved in capital raising and mergers of domestic and global financial institutions. Kuki began his career at Japan Development Bank in 1983.