Ex-Goldman, Oasis Man Starts Activist Fund Targeting Japan Inc.

(Bloomberg) -- A former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. investment banker and Oasis Management Co. analyst has set up his own activist hedge fund, seeking to encourage change at Japanese companies.

Takuya Shigaki started investing at Lone Alpha Capital Management Pte. in January after a one-year stint with the Hong Kong-based hedge fund Oasis, he said in a phone interview. Lone Alpha, which is based in Singapore, plans to invest in Japanese firms that, for example, would benefit from spinning off parts of their business. Shigaki declined to say how much money his firm has raised or what companies it has invested in.

“Quite a lot of industries are in need of restructuring,” Shigaki, 31, said. “We want to actively propose new means like tax-free spinoffs, whose legal grounds were set two years ago but have never been put to use.”

At Oasis, Shigaki helped with campaigns for better corporate governance at companies including GMO Internet Inc. and Pasona Group Inc., he said. Last January, Oasis pushed GMO Internet founder Masatoshi Kumagai to loosen his grip over the web-services company. In 2017, the fund started a campaign calling on recruiting firm Pasona to improve profitability.

“As long-term engagement investors in Japan, we welcome more investors engaging with more companies to help drive more value in Japan,” Seth Fischer, chief investment officer of Oasis, said by email about Shigaki’s firm.

Goldman, JPMorgan

Before his time at Oasis, Shigaki was a mergers and acquisitions banker in Tokyo and San Francisco for Goldman for five years from 2012, focusing on technology firms. Prior to that, he worked in investment banking at JPMorgan Securities Japan Co.

Shigaki is joined at Lone Alpha by Shunichiro Fujino, a former M&A banker at Nomura Holdings Inc., and Kensuke Tsujimoto, a former lawyer at Japanese law firm Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu.

Lone Alpha Capital will invest in not more than 10 companies, seeking an annual percentage return in the high teens, according to Shigaki. The firm seeks to raise money from institutional investors primarily based in the U.S., he said.

Lone Alpha Capital joins an increasing number of activist hedge funds seeking to bring change at Japanese firms, following the country’s moves to make company executives more responsive to shareholders. Japan introduced a stewardship code in 2014 and a corporate governance code the next year. Shigaki says his fund will be somewhere in between aggressive activism and the friendlier type of engagement that sits at the other end of the spectrum.

“We’re aiming to do effective activism,” Shigaki said. “I think Japan is a market where” companies have a lot of room for improvement, he said.

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