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May 23, 2013

Sushi’s Abenomics wave: posh tuna in, plain mackerel out

TOKYO, May 24 (Reuters) – Investors in Japan might keep a
close eye on sales of the homely horse mackerel as an early
warning of any trouble ahead.

The good news is that in the more confident Japan of 2013,
tuna remains king.

So says Mizuho Securities economist Kenta Ishizu, who
believes he has found a leading indicator of Japanese consumer
demand that relies on two of the most common items on a sushi
menu: Japanese horse mackerel and tuna.

May 15, 2013

For Japan lenders, Abenomics’ pain comes first, gain later

TOKYO, May 15 (Reuters) – Japan’s top three banks forecast
weaker annual earnings as aggressive monetary easing squeezes
them out of a profitable government bond trade and forces them
to rely more on bread-and-butter lending where margins remain
razor-thin.

The cautious outlooks delivered by Mitsubishi UFJ Financial
Group Inc (MUFG), Mizuho Financial Group Inc, and
Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc (SMFG) highlight
the tough transition facing the industry after the central
bank’s radical easing in April, including a plan to purchase 70
percent of Japanese government bonds issued each month.

May 10, 2013

Japan lender Resona says to repay $8.8 bln govt debt in 5 years

TOKYO, May 10 (Reuters) – Japanese lender Resona Holdings
Inc plans to pay off the 870 billion yen ($8.8 billion)
debt it owes the government by early 2018, ending a bailout that
began over a decade ago.

Under the plan announced on Friday, Resona will buy back
from the government preferred shares worth up to 300 billion yen
and 100 billion yen worth of common shares during the current
financial year, which ends in March 2014.

May 9, 2013

SMFG pays top dollar for Indonesia bank stake in retail push

TOKYO/HONG KONG, May 9 (Reuters) – Sumitomo Mitsui Financial
Group’s deal to buy a $1.5 billion stake in Indonesia’s
BTPN at high valuations marks the beginning of an
aggressive push by cash-rich Japanese lenders into retail
banking in other Asian markets.

Indonesia is Southeast Asia’s biggest economy but has one of
Asia’s most underdeveloped banking markets, giving it great
allure for foreign investors even if regulatory worries have
impeded some deals.

May 8, 2013

SMBC to buy up to 40 percent of Indonesian bank BTPN

TOKYO/HONG KONG (Reuters) – Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp (SMBC) said it agreed to acquire as much as 40 percent of Indonesian lender BTPN (BTPN.JK: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), giving the Japanese bank a foothold in the fast-growing Southeast Asian economy.

SMBC’s pursuit of Indonesia’s seventh-biggest bank underscores a sustained push abroad by Japanese companies to beat sluggish growth in their home market.

Apr 26, 2013

Japan’s SMBC said in talks for TPG’s Indonesia bank stake

HONG KONG/TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp is in advanced talks to buy a $1.2 billion stake in BTPN, an Indonesian lender backed by TPG Capital, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

SMBC’s pursuit of Indonesia’s seventh-largest bank by market value is another example of a Japanese company seeking to grow in that country’s fast growing financial services market. A sale by TPG would also provide another case of a U.S. private equity investor raking in a massive profit from an early investment in an Asian financial institution.

Apr 21, 2013

Japanese banks say hola, go local as they woo overseas borrowers

TOKYO, April 22 (Reuters) – Japan’s banking titans are
hiring Spanish-speaking bankers to win new business in Latin
America and handing out loans to junk-grade borrowers in the
United States as they probe deeper overseas to fight meagre
returns at home.

Lenders such as Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc (SMFG)
have ramped up overseas lending since the euro zone
debt crisis sent European rivals packing. The move abroad was
given a new impetus this month after the central bank unveiled a
stimulus plan that will plunge Japan into an ultra-low monetary
environment, further eroding razor-thin loan margins and cutting
returns on Japanese government bonds.

Apr 19, 2013

Japan insurers likely to boost foreign bond holdings -industry group head

TOKYO, April 19 (Reuters) – Japan’s life insurers, which
hold $3.4 trillion in assets, are likely to shift some of their
money into foreign bonds after the Bank of Japan announced plans
for aggressive monetary stimulus, the head of Japan’s life
insurance industry group said on Friday.

Kenji Matsuo, who also heads one of the country’s largest
life insurers, Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co, said
the shift would be temporary, however, with Japanese yields
likely to move up in the medium term as a result of the BOJ’s
measures.

Apr 12, 2013

MUFG chief plans to ramp up assets in U.S. and Asia

TOKYO (Reuters) – Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (8306.T: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) plans to ramp up asset acquisitions in the United States and Asia, including acquisitions of local banks, its new head said, as Japanese lenders accelerate their overseas push to make up for falling spread margins at home.

“Given its broad and deep market, the United States is the place of importance for us. And in Asia, we expect strong growth,” said Nobuyuki Hirano, who became president of the world’s 12th largest bank by market capital in April.

Apr 10, 2013

For Japan’s loan-starved banks, BOJ’s big bang carries new risk

TOKYO, April 11 (Reuters) – When the Bank of Japan announced
its go-for-broke bid to shock the economy out of two decades of
stagnation, it also put the nation’s banks on notice to find a
money-hungry borrower other than the government itself.

Since the late 1990s, Japan’s banks have relied on
increasing purchases of Japanese government bonds (JGBs) to make
up for falling demand for loans from Japan’s risk-averse
businesses and individual borrowers.