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Societe Generale to Boost Project Finance in Japan With New Unit

Societe Generale SA hired Hiroyuki Nishiguchi as the head of its loan syndicate and sales department in Japan, a unit which was formed in December to seek more transactions for project financing.

Nishiguchi, who was previously vice president in charge of offshore loans at Tokyo Star Bank Ltd., is now visiting Japanese lenders to discuss deals, said Atsushi Yamashita, the managing director of export and project finance at Societe Generale. The Paris-based company also plans to sell loan assets to the banks, Yamashita said.

European lenders are seeking to revive financing for infrastructure, natural resource extraction and shipping projects after scaling back to comply with stricter capital rules. The retreat allowed Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., Japan’s largest bank by market value, to increase its overseas lending and raise its place in underwriter rankings for project financing to second from sixth last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“We will make the shift to a more aggressive mode from this year,” Yamashita said in an interview in Tokyo yesterday. “Japan is a very critical market for project financing because it’s home to many trading houses.”

Societe Generale, which helped manage $2.2 billion of the loans in 2012, slipped in the underwriter rankings to 16th place from 10th the previous year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. State Bank of India was the biggest mandated arranger with $13.4 billion, followed by with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group with $9.7 billion, the data show.

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