Mercer Buys Japan’s BFC Asset Management

US consulting firm’s acquisition marks expansion in the Japanese investment management realm.

Consulting firm Mercer has acquired BFC Asset Management of Japan, which specializes in alternative investments. The buyout is a rare instance of an American company nudging into the Japanese financial sector, and comes amid mounting demand from institutional investors in the region driven by relatively reasonable valuations and potential catalysts in economic reforms.

Mercer, a unit of professional services giant Marsh & McLennan, bought BFC for an undisclosed sum. Japanese institutional investors are moving away from their traditional reliance on government bonds and seek a wide range of alternatives, including long-short funds, private equity, and real estate, Mercer said in a statement.

“BFC is a truly client-centric firm and one of Japan’s successful providers of alternative investment solutions focusing on hedge fund and private equity strategies,” said Tatsuya Kamoi, chief executive of Mercer’s Japan and Far East region, in the statement. Mercer has had a foothold in Japanese investment management previously. It established an outpost called Mercer Investment Solutions in Japan in May 2015.

The Financial Times reported that this buyout, with a foreign company taking over a Japanese financial firm, is uncommon. “This is a marriage after dating for many years,” the newspaper quoted Rich Nuzum, president of Mercer’s Wealth business, as saying.

BFC was spun out of Barclays Global Investors when Blackrock bought Barclays in 2009, the The Financial Times wrote.

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