Credit Suisse pushes back into asset management in Japan

Credit Suisse Securities (Japan) is setting up a Tokyo-based investment management company. The new entity will offer alternative assets, including private equity, to Japan's pension funds.

Credit Suisse Securities (Japan), part of the Credit Suisse Group, is establishing an alternative asset management firm in Tokyo to target Japan's institutional investors.

The firm plans to offer private equity funds amongst its products, which will also include hedge funds and exchange traded funds. Japanese pension funds represent around $800 million in combined assets under management.

“Allocations to private equity are very small here compared to the US,” said Akira Takahashi, country head for asset management at Credit Suisse, in an interview. “In Japan, when we say alternatives we mostly think of hedge funds.”

He added that while the collapse of Lehmans Brothers had caused nervousness amongst the country's institutional investors, he anticipated a growing appetite for alterntives including private equity.

The firm, which won approval from Japan's Financial Services Agency on 2 October, is still in internal discussions as regards the exact nature and timing of the products it plans to launch, said Takahashi. He added: “As far as private equity goes, it's probably easier to start with secondaries – they have less impact on the J-Curve – and a fund of funds structure.”

The establishment of the new firm follows the sale in June this year of Credit Suisse's original Japan-based asset management unit to Aberdeen Asset Management, reportedly as part of the Swiss bank's divestment strategy to try to assuage losses. According to a Bloomberg report, the division had 31 billion yen ($345 million) in assets under management when the sale completed.

The new Credit Suisse firm has been established with a team of six. Credit Suisse recruited Shinichiro Sato in August from BlackRock to lead the new investment team.