GPIF appoints new president

Norihiro Takahashi will take over from Takahiro Mitani at the beginning of April.

The $1.2 trillion Japanese Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) has appointed Norihiro Takahashi as its new president effective 1 April, according to a list of upcoming appointments published by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.

Takahashi, 58, is a former managing director at Norinchukin Bank, a lender to the agriculture, forestry and fishery industries. He takes over from Takahiro Mitani, a former Bank of Japan official who has been president since 2010.

Mitani, who is retiring, reportedly accepted a new five-year term last April with the intention of remaining at the fund only until a new president was appointed.

After a strategy and governance revamp in 2014 under growing pressure to deliver better returns, GPIF announced it would diversify into private equity real estate and infrastructure, allocating up to 5 percent of its assets to alternatives. The fund also significantly reduced its target allocation to domestic bonds from 60 percent to 35 percent and doubled its exposure to domestic stocks from 12 percent to 25 percent.

That July GPIF hired Hiromichi Mizuno, a former partner at London-based private equity secondaries investor Coller Capital, as its first head of investment, and started the search for in-house alternatives investment managers, as reported by Private Equity International.

Earlier this year PEI reported that, in a move viewed as a brake on the giant fund’s investment ambitions, an advisory committee at the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare decided not to lift the current ban on GPIF investing directly in stocks despite proposals from the fund that the practice should be reviewed.

Four asset managers are currently managing the pension’s active domestic and foreign equities. GPIF selected Schroder Investment Management (Japan), Daiwa SB Investments and Nomura Asset Management for domestic active stock mandates, and UBS Global Asset Management (Japan) for foreign active holdings, according to a statement on its website.