Sparx To Launch Japan Reconstruction Fund

Jun 20 2011 | 12:03pm ET

One of Asia's biggest hedge funds plans to lend a profitable helping hand to Japan's earthquake- and tsunami-stricken north.

Sparx Group will launch a real estate fund next month that will focus on reconstruction efforts in the Tōhoku region, CEO Shuhei Abe told the Reuters Rebuilding Japan Summit today. The fund will debut with between US$5 million and US$10 million, but Abe said he hopes to raise up to US$100 million.

The reconstruction fund will invest in temporary hotel builders working to house the more than 100,000 people Abe says remain homeless.

"People need houses and need storage space and those are not supplied," he explained. "That situation should continue for a while." Abe noted that while the fund would provide much-needed capital for the reconstruction efforts, it could also turn a tidy double-digit return.

The March 11 earthquake triggered a massive tsunami and several major aftershocks, killing more than 15,000 people and leaving more than 7,000 injured. It also set off a catastrophic crisis at a nuclear power plant, which is still ongoing.

Abe also told the conference that Spark expects to begin offering mutual funds in South Korea by the end of this year or early next year, and that the US$8.2 billion firm hopes to boost assets to about US$9.5 billion over the next 12 months.

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