Gangster capital

When it comes to public relations, private equity in Japan can't catch a break. For years the under-developed industry there was labeled hagetaka, or vultures. Last year saw the debut of a popular NHK television drama of the same name, in which a foreign investment fund targets Japanese corporations.

Now the embryonic industry has a new negative image to battle – the Yakuza, or Japanese mafia. A recent report in the Times Online quotes a gang expert as calling the Yakuza Japan's “biggest private equity firm”, due to the stakes various gang-affiliated front companies have taken in even well-known Japanese corporations.

We're certain local GPs don't appreciate being declared to be in competition with guys who sport dragon tattoos and missing fingers. It might even make them long for the slightly more cuddly vulture mascot.

QUOTABLES
“If I had $700 billion on the government's terms to buy distressed assets, I would. Unfortunately, I'm tapped out.” Warren Buffett, speaking to CNBC after his investment in Goldman Sachs, says the US government'sWall Street bailout is a good deal for taxpayers

“Can you believe that people used to talk about how risky our markets were in Asia Pacific? There was a willingness to suspend disbelief in the US market when the secular trends were obvious and undeniable.”

A panellist at the recent Australian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association annual conference on the Gold Coast

“Down 10 per cent is the new flat.” A hedge fund manager quoted in the Financial Times