Mitsubishi UFJ Seeks U.S. Asset Manager to Broaden Offering

Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Presidnent Tatsuo Wakabayashi
Tatsuo Wakabayashi, president and chief executive officer of Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corp. Photographer: Koichi Kamoshida/Bloomberg

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc.’s trust banking arm plans to invest in a U.S. fund management firm in the next three years as clients seek a broader range of products.

Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corp., a unit of Japan’s biggest bank, is searching for east coast-based targets with broader investment vehicles, from equities and fixed income to property, President Tatsuo Wakabayashi said in an interview on April 10. The bank can spend as much as 150 billion yen ($1.8 billion) on investments in the next three years, he said.

Mitsubishi UFJ Trust has been buying asset management firms abroad to globalize its customer base and products. It signed a A$425 million ($436 million) deal for 15 percent of AMP Ltd.’s Australian asset management business last year, after buying a stake in Aberdeen Asset Management Plc. of Scotland in 2008.

“Demand for asset management services with global products is growing from clients inside and outside Japan, and the U.S. is the market we are watching closely,” said Wakabayashi, 59, who took over April 1. “I want to boost our net income to more than 100 billion yen in the next three years” from 76.2 billion yen in the year ended March 2011.

Shares of Mitsubishi UFJ rose as much as 3.6 percent in Tokyo and traded at 401 yen, a gain of 3.4 percent, at 10:10 a.m. They have gained 23 percent this year, outpacing the benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average’s 14 percent increase.

Under a December agreement, Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and AMP Capital Holdings, which manages about A$120 billion of assets, will develop new products for the Japanese company’s clients including pension funds through the Mitsubishi UFJ Group’s network, the bank said in December.

Asian Wealth

At home, the trust bank added one official this year to its three-member international sales team, which handles high-net-worth Asian investors buying Japanese assets, Wakabayashi said. Asian wealth is helping drive a recovery in investment demand for Japanese property including commercial buildings and warehouses, he said.

Mitsubishi UFJ Trust in 2008 took a 9.9 percent stake in Aberdeen, named for the U.K. city where it’s based, later expanding the holding to 17.6 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Aberdeen manages 184.4 billion pounds ($293 billion) of assets as of Feb. 29, its website says.

The Mitsubishi UFJ group has accelerated its growth in the U.S., where its lending subsidiary, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd., may spend “several billion” dollars to buy a regional bank, unit President Nobuyuki Hirano said last month. Mitsubishi UFJ signed a $1.5 billion deal in March to buy Santa Barbara, California-based Pacific Capital Bancorp. through its UnionBanCal Corp. unit.

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