Insurance giant, Nippon Life Insurance, is scouting for opportunities to buy boutique managers of bonds and alternative assets, reported Reuters citing the insurer's President, Mr Yoshinobu Tsutsui.
“Asset management is a business that can generate synergy with life insurance and it needs to be operated globally. We have been looking widely for potential partners,” Mr Tsutsui said in an interview.
The bulking up of asset management overseas by Japan’s largest private-sector life insurer comes as the nation’s insurers are increasingly shifting money away from Japanese government bonds (JGBs), their main investment, into riskier but higher-yielding ones such as foreign corporate bonds to diversify their returns.
Insurers in Japan have been hurt by diminishing investment returns after the Bank of Japan launched aggressive monetary easing in April 2013.
Mr Tsutsui said potential targets are likely to be asset management companies with bond investment expertise, as the insurer’s portfolio has been traditionally made up of fixed-income products.
He also said the company is looking for specialists in alternative investments, whose real estate and other portfolios offer diversification from conventional bond and stock investments.
“As we have to diversify investment assets globally, alternative is a very important field,” he said. “The United States has a very big and deep market for asset management. There are huge companies but there are also small but unique boutiques. We would like to keep looking there,” he said.
Last month, Nippon Life announced a deal to acquire 24.75% of Los Angeles-based TCW, a global asset management company, from private equity firm Carlyle Group.