Office-Space Pioneer Builds a Fortune on Tokyo's Sky-High Rents

(Bloomberg) -- Takateru Kawano worked at an internet bank and helped set up an online brokerage before seizing an opportunity that would make him a billionaire.

In 2005, when he founded TKP Corp., hardly anyone was harnessing the power of the web to rent out office and event space. Today, the company controls more than 1,900 conference rooms from Japan to Hong Kong to New York, serving about 94,000 corporate clients.

Office-Space Pioneer Builds a Fortune on Tokyo's Sky-High Rents

Kawano’s net worth eclipsed $1 billion in January after Tokyo-based TKP’s stock had surged as much as 415 percent since its debut last March, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The shares have dropped since, paring his fortune to about $886 million. The company declined to comment on his wealth.

Office-Space Pioneer Builds a Fortune on Tokyo's Sky-High Rents

Kawano, 45, owns about 72 percent of the stock directly and through Riverfield Inc., his closely held asset-management firm, regulatory filings show. TKP, with a market value of 130 billion yen ($1.23 billion), is the sixth-largest member of the 242-company Tokyo Stock Exchange Mothers Index.

In January, TKP posted strong fiscal third-quarter results, “already achieving its annual net-income target,” said Yukio Suzuki, chief analyst at Belle Investment Research of Japan Inc. Revenue for the first nine months of the latest fiscal year climbed 29 percent to 21.3 billion yen from the same period a year earlier.

‘Space Regeneration’

The company leases and transforms underused spaces into conference rooms that it rents out for seminars, training, exhibitions and concerts, in what it describes as “space regeneration and distribution.”

Tokyo was the world’s third-highest-priced office market, real estate consulting firm Cushman & Wakefield said in a November report. The average cost of operating an office space in the city was $18,111 per workstation in 2017.

That’s what makes TKP’s unique model of space sharing thrive, Suzuki said.

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