By Gilly Wright
Japanese financial group ORIX’s acquisition of a 90.1% share of Dutch asset management company Robeco from Rabobank for $2.6 billion is both the largest Japanese outbound deal so far this year and a reflection of a continuing trend of cash-rich but asset-poor Asian firms snapping up European assets.
Japanese money comes to Europe in quest for assets
Last year Franco-Belgian financial institution Dexia sold its asset management affiliate, Dexia Asset Management, to Hong Kong investment firm GCS Capital. Japanese bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking, meanwhile, bought the Royal Bank of Scotland’s aviation division for $7.3 billion.
ORIX CFO Haruyuki Urata confirms that financial companies in Japan have ample funding. “We believe that they are interested in opportunities such as the sales of non-core assets by European and US companies.”
The acquisition will allow ORIX to benefit from Robeco’s European and North American presence, while providing Asian and Middle Eastern possibilities for Robeco.
By allowing Rabobank to maintain a 9.9% stake in Robeco, ORIX can build a strategic alliance with Rabobank, while expanding its global brand and distribution network.
“Robeco has a tremendous track record in the field of asset management,” observes Urata. “Furthermore, Robeco has a strong brand and wide-ranging customer platform and is globally competitive. The company also has the capacity to capture expanding asset management needs on a global basis.”
Urata says that Robeco and ORIX are compatible in terms of business lines and regional presence and will support each other’s growth. “A stronger relationship with Rabobank, which has a strong presence in Europe, will give ORIX more opportunities to expand its European operation and capture new business opportunities.” ORIX insists that the Robeco brand will remain intact, as will its board.
A complex deal made with an eye on the long term, the acquisition, many hope, will encourage further Japanese investments in Europe, especially since a strong yen and shrinking domestic market make Japanese firms ideally placed to take advantage of knocked-down European assets.