Aflac Names Yamamoto Japan Investing Head, Reporting to Kirsch

Aflac Inc. hired Hideto Yamamoto as chief investment officer in Japan, the insurer’s largest market, as the company copes with low bond yields.

Yamamoto will replace Chip Stevens, the former BlackRock Inc. fixed-income trader, who held the CIO role in an acting capacity, according to a statement Thursday from Columbus, Georgia-based Aflac. He joins from DIAM International, an asset manager where he rose to chief executive officer.

Aflac Japan’s investments portfolio had a yield of 2.83 percent at the end of December, compared with 3.77 percent five years earlier, according to a company document. The insurer’s portfolio included about $40 billion tied to Japan, among $95 billion in debt and perpetual securities, a regulatory filing shows.

“We are pleased to welcome an investment veteran with Yamamoto-san’s longstanding and multi-faceted investment skill set,” Aflac CIO Eric Kirsch said in the statement. “The decades of global experience he’s established will further enrich Aflac Japan’s investment-management activities.”

Yamamoto will report globally to Kirsch, who joined the insurer in 2011 from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to build the investing operation. Working in Tokyo, Yamamoto will report locally to Masatoshi Koide, an executive vice president in Japan.

Stevens, the global head of macro investment strategy, portfolio solutions and trading, will return to Aflac’s New York global investments office in May. His role will expand to include international investment and currency strategies.

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