The illiquid alternative investment industry in Japan is keeping its feet planted on the ground in the post-earthquake clean-up.
Unlike the melee of the liquid market, with a dumping of stocks followed by a rooting around for value buys, the illiquids market is reacting in a more measured way.
AsianInvestor put to CLSA Capital Partners that because of the longer term tenor of private equity deals, the implications of an exogenous event could be contained in a way that a public market event could not. Chairman Richard Pyvis and CEO Chris Seaver agreed, provided one's business was not physically located in one of the devastated areas.
They added that future stimulus measures could prove to be a boon, but in turn run a residual risk of malinvestment.
On the real estate and infrastructure investment side, the order of business now is to check the fabric and condition of the investments themselves.
Tom Mills, the CEO at MGPA in Tokyo, says the firm is conducting a detailed assessment of each of the property assets it owns in Japan to ascertain if they have sustained any damage.
"We are working closely with our property managers to gather initial reports on the status of our assets," he says. "We began receiving information on many of them from Friday night, the same day as the earthquake. We have one asset in Tokyo that is built on a steel coil meant to allow the building to move to some degree in the event of an earthquake and this seems to have worked."
AsianInvestor calls to distressed and special situations managers were not returned. This came as no surprise given that distressed investors are in the most delicate position of all illiquid investors. They risk being labelled as vultures if even a hint is given that a fund might look to acquire a distressed position at this point of time.
Therefore, distressed investing in Japan is probably going to be an activity conducted off the radar screen for the near future.
In reality there is not necessarily a correlation between Friday’s earthquake and the emergence of distressed investing scenarios in Japan. Since this catastrophe has galvanised the country, it may be perceived as ‘unpatriotic’ for Japanese banks not to extend additional support to companies in peril, even if the earthquake was not the catalyst for their endangerment.