EQT mulls Japan hires, may open Tokyo office – exclusive

The investment firm, which has focused on Europe and the US, is planning to boost its Asia IR team with more Japanese professionals.

Swedish investment firm EQT is joining the growing list of global firms looking to tap deal opportunities and investor capital in Japan, Private Equity International has learned.

The firm wants to hire Japanese professionals for its investor relations team in Asia and is considering setting up a Tokyo office, according to Sean Ham, managing director and the firm’s head of investor relations, Asia-Pacific.

While no timeline has been set for the new hires and Tokyo outpost, Ham noted that EQT has been looking at investment opportunities in Japan mainly via its Singapore office where the firm’s Asia infrastructure team is based. Of particular interest are Japan’s telecom, logistics and transport sectors.

EQT first received capital commitments from Japanese insurance companies and corporate pensions in 2004, Ham noted.

Investors including Government Pension Investment Fund, Japan Post Bank and Japan Post Insurance have increased their allocation targets for alternative investments and overseas assets, as reported by PEI. Japan Post Bank is set to increase its alternative investments from the current 1 percent exposure to up to 4 percent, or roughly $78 billion, it said in its latest medium-term plan. In February it teamed up with Japan Post Insurance and set up a private equity fund management company, Japan Post Investment Corporation, which will have around $1.1 billion for co-investments in the country. Meanwhile, GPIF is in the final stages of due diligence and selection of fund of funds managers for private equity, a spokeswoman for the pension told PEI in September.

Apollo Global Management is opening an office in Tokyo before the end of the year, the Financial Times reported in mid-October, while KKR, Bain Capital and Blackstone have been active recently in big-ticket deals in the country.

In September last year EQT teamed up with Singapore state investor Temasek to identify potential investments in South-East Asia, India, Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

“We are now looking to Asia, a region which presents compelling future opportunities for a firm like EQT also in the infrastructure space,” Lennart Blecher, head of EQT real assets and deputy managing partner, said in a statement about the partnership.

EQT began raising capital for its fourth infrastructure vehicle targeting €7.5 billion last month.

The firm is also investing its third Asia mid-market fund that closed on $800 million in May. EQT Asia Mid Market III targets control-oriented investments in Greater China and South-East Asia.