Japan’s Ant Capital returns to market with sixth buyout fund

Ant Catalyzer No.6 Private Equity Investment is expected to comprise a larger proportion of international capital than its predecessors.

Ant Capital, a Japanese small and mid-market buyout firm, is back in market with its sixth flagship fund, Private Equity International has learned.

Ant Catalyzer No.6 Private Equity Investment launched in January, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter. The fund is targeting ¥50 billion ($461 million; €387 million) target, one of the sources said.

The fund is expected to comprise a larger proportion of international capital than its predecessors, the sources noted. The firm has about $800 million-worth of active assets under management across prior vehicles, of which roughly 10 percent was from overseas investors.

Ant Capital declined to comment.

Ant raised about ¥35 billion for its 2016-vintage predecessor, Ant Catalyzer No.5 Private Equity Investment and ¥13.5 billion for the 2010-vintage Ant Catalyzer No.4 Private Equity Investment. Its portfolio includes sushi restaurant chain Amino Corporation, knitwear manufacturer Fenix International and snack producer Sokan Co.

Founded in 2000, Ant is also one of Japan’s only domestic secondaries players. The firm collected ¥15 billion for Ant Bridge No.5-B Private Equity Secondary Investment Fund in 2019, sister title Secondaries Investor reported at the time. All of its capital was provided by domestic LPs.

Japanese GPs are targeting overseas investors with increasing frequency. T Capital Partners, another domestic buyout firm, accepted international capital for the first time in its T Capital VI fund, which held its final close on its ¥81 billion hard-cap in February.

Japan’s mid-market is ripe for private equity investment with a generation of businesses in need of succession plans. As of 2017, more than half of companies with a founder over 60-years-old and 34 percent of those over 80 had yet to name a successor, according to a 2019 report from investment banking advisory BDA Partners.

Growing acceptance of PE has translated into a larger number of buyouts, which have accounted for more than two-thirds of annual dealmaking since 2014. Prior to that, such deals tended to account for roughly half of annual volumes.