Japanese Insurer Eyes More Private Equity

Dec 15 2011 | 1:12pm ET

Japan’s largest life insurer is set to increase its investments in private equity, which currently accounts for a fraction of its ¥50 trillion (US$640 billion) portfolio.

Hiroo Sakuma, deputy general manager of Nippon Life Insurance Co.’s credit and alternative investments department, told Bloomberg News that the company aims to boost its private equity holdings next year. The insurer plans to maintain its current hedge fund investment level, roughly half the size of its private equity portfolio.

“We’re still planning to gradually increase our allocations to private equity, seeking opportunities that make sense,” Sakuma said. “It’s been a very difficult market not just for us, but for the entire industry.

Nippon Life currently invests in more than 100 private equity funds, against 30 to 40 hedge funds, Sakuma said. Its total alternative investments portfolio, however, accounts for less than 1% of its assets.

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