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Yahoo Japan Hires Ex-Goldman Banker as More Deals Planned

Yahoo Japan Hires Goldman Sachs Banker as It Steps Up Deal Pace
Yahoo Japan Corp. employees speak to a customer in front of the company's logo at its headquarters in Tokyo. Photographer: Akio Kon/Bloomberg

Yahoo Japan Corp., operator of the country’s most-visited Web portal, said it hired Ryu Hirayama, a former banker at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in Tokyo.

Hirayama, who was vice president of investment banking at Goldman Sachs, joined Yahoo Japan on Aug. 1, and the company hasn’t decided on his position, said Junji Miyahara, a spokesman for Yahoo Japan. Hirayama advised on mergers and acquisitions while at Goldman, according to a person with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified because personnel matters aren’t discussed publicly.

Yahoo Japan, whose largest shareholder is billionaire Masayoshi Son’s SoftBank Corp., has announced at least eight mergers and acquisitions worth about $670 million since April 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The company said in June it’s targeting a 77 percent increase in earnings during the next six years through expanding its e-commerce business and offering more services for smartphones and tablet computers.

“Domestic mergers and acquisitions are very critical” for Yahoo Japan, said Hiroshi Naya, an analyst at Ichiyoshi Research Institute Inc. “Yahoo Japan may look for joint ventures and collaborations with newspapers, broadcasters or the financial industry,” he said.

The company is bound by an agreement with Yahoo! Inc., its second-biggest shareholder, against doing business outside Japan with the Yahoo brand, said Miyahara, the spokesman.

Hiroko Matsumoto, a Tokyo-based spokeswoman at Goldman Sachs, declined to comment. A person who answered the phone at Yahoo Japan headquarters declined to connect a call to Hirayama.

Investment Bankers

Yahoo Japan fell 3.5 percent to 48,950 yen at the close in Tokyo trading, paring its gain this year to 76 percent. The benchmark Topix index dropped 0.6 percent and has added 32 percent this year.

Yahoo Japan’s hiring of Hirayama follows similar moves by Gree Inc., Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd. and Otsuka Holdings Inc., which have also appointed bankers from brokerages.

Suntory Beverage hired in March Haruhisa Inada, a former co-head of the investment banking division at Merrill Lynch Japan Securities Co., a unit of Bank of America Corp., to lead the M&A team it set up in January. Otsuka hired Manabu Kawata from Morgan Stanley in 2011 after he arranged an initial public offering of the pharmaceutical company,

Gree, the Japanese social-networking website operator, appointed Naoki Aoyagi from Deutsche Bank AG as chief financial officer in 2006. Mixi Inc., owner of Japan’s largest social networking service, hired Fumiaki Koizumi from Daiwa Securities Group Inc.’s investment banking unit in the same year.

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