Loeb Sees More Opportunities in Japan as Fanuc Stake Makes Gains

Billionaire Dan Loeb, whose Third Point hedge fund holds a stake in Yamanashi-based Fanuc Corp., said he has met with Japanese officials and expects that he’ll find more ways to spend money in the nation.

“We are excited about potential investment opportunities in Japan and met with companies and government officials on our visit a few weeks ago,” Loeb said in a conference call discussing results at Third Point Reinsurance Ltd., the Bermuda-based reinsurer that he co-founded. He didn’t say who attended the meeting or what was discussed.

Loeb, who sometimes takes activist stakes in companies to push for changes, said in February that his hedge fund had invested in Fanuc and asked the company to return more cash to shareholders. The maker of industrial robots has gained 25 percent since Loeb announced the stake on Feb. 9

The billionaire said in a letter to investors dated May 1 that Fanuc is the “Apple of Japan” and 10 percent of his hedge fund’s assets are invested in the nation. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policies -- known as Abenomics -- are bearing fruit, he wrote.

“Abenomics is working,” Loeb, 53, said in the letter. “In 2014, Japan created an index of 400 domestic companies that employed ‘best practices’ of corporate governance. The jockeying to be part of the index set off conversations about outside directors, transparency, and modernizing investor relations.”

Third Point previously held shares of Sony Corp. and pushed for a breakup of the maker of consumer electronics. Loeb said in October that he sold his stake, earning 20 percent on a $1.1 billion investment since May 2013.

Until recently, there has been no activist success in Japan, Troy Gayeski, a partner at SkyBridge Capital, said this week in an interview.