TPG hires GE veteran as senior advisor for Japan

TPG’s move to appoint an executive retired from a known corporate brand mirrors similar efforts undertaken by other international private equity firms such as KKR and Bain Capital.

TPG, the US private equity group, has recruited Nobuhiko Ito, former president and chief executive officer of General Electric Japan, to be a senior advisor for its Japanese operations. Ito’s career with GE started in 1989 prior to which, he had worked for Exxon.

The 60-year old professional started on 5 January. His professional experience is representative of the kind private equity firms are courting in a country where buyouts have proven to be elusive and challenging to complete.

Ito would not be the first GE veteran to join TPG. Steven Schneider, a partner in Hong Kong responsible for leading the operational changes of portfolio companies, joined the firm at the end of 2005 after a 20-year career with GE, 13 years of which were spent in Asia.

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts last year appointed Taketo Yamakawa, former chief executive of GE Consumer Finance for North East Asia as a managing director and chief executive officer of KKR’s Japanese operations. Tamotsu Adachi, who co-heads Carlyle’s Japan buyout team, joined the Washington-based private equity group from General Electric Capital where he held a number of senior positions between 1997 and 2003.

Buyout firms are banking on the network and the respect Japanese senior executives command in the conservative local business community. Most of the advisers engaged have also worked for internationally known US corporations such as GE and McKinsey.