Newbridge pursuing Takefuji

A private equity syndicate led by Newbridge Capital is reported to be close to acquiring a one third stake in Japan’s leading consumer finance group.

News reports today suggest that a consortium led by Newbridge Capital may soon confirm the acquisition of a significant minority stake in Takefuji Corporation, Japan’s leading consumer finance company.

Reuters report that the consortium may invest Y400 billion (€3.02 billion; $3.65 billion) for a one third stake in the company, which is the largest provider of consumer credit by market share in Japan. This would make the investment the most sizeable private equity commitment yet in Japan.

Other members of the consortium are said to include Tim Collins’ Ripplewood Holdings that has established a stellar reputation for its investments in Japanese companies after multi-billion yen exits from banking group Shinsei and fixed line provider Japan Telecom. Newbridge was part of the syndicate that joined Ripplewood in the Japan Telecom investment in November 2003, exiting just six months later in a sale to trade buyer Softbank.

Listed Takefuji has a market capitalisation of over one trillion yen ($10bn) and has been courted by numerous global financial groups hungry to access the highly lucrative Japanese consumer finance market. Citigroup, HSBC, GE Finance as well as Shinsei have all been monitoring Teakefuji as well Aplus Co, another consumer finance group, where a 40 per cent stake has been put up for sale by UFJ Holdings in Japan.

40-year-old Takefuji has recently been rocked by the arrest of its 74-year-old founder Yasuo Takei on wire-tapping charges in December. Takei resigned as chairman and now awaits a court decision on the accusations due mid-September.

Fort Worth-headquartered Newbridge was established in 1994 by Texas Pacific Group (TPG) and Blum Capital Partners (formerly Richard C. Blum and Associates) and is dedicated to making direct investments in Asia. It manages over $1.7bn of capital and has offices in Hong Kong, San Francisco, Shanghai, Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore, Mumbai and Melbourne as well as Fort Worth.

Newbridge has major affiliations not only with TPG and Blum but also with US-headquartered private equity group Colony Capital and leading distressed investor AMROC Investments. In Asia, AMROC trades and intermediates debt securities transactions with US investors as well as within the region.

Since its establishment, Newbridge has invested in a variety of industries, including consumer food and beverages, semiconductor packaging and testing, port services, hotel and property management, steel, banking, software development/integration, telecom/communications, pharmaceuticals and financial services