Barefoot Investor: Can anyone of you noticed the Tsunami of Japanese investments hits our shores?

This year, and particularly over the last month, our sushi-loving neighbours from the east have been forking out big sums to take over or participate in Malaysian assets.

everage firm Asahi Group Holdings Ltd, for example, made big news here two weeks ago when it inked a deal to take over CI Holdings Bhd's Permanis Sdn Bhd, a soft drinks company that is also the bottler for PepsiCo Inc in Malaysia, for a handsome RM820 million.

Not long after, and with less media fanfare, Proto Corp bought the Malaysian publisher of Motor Trader and Autocar Asean magazines for some RM109.7 million.

And earlier in April, in one of the largest merger and acquisition transactions done so far this year, Mitsui & Co Ltd took a 30 per cent stake in Khazanah Nasional Bhd's Integrated Healthcare Holdings Bhd, a Malaysian healthcare firm with a regional presence, for a whopping RM3.3 billion.

It was, in fact, the most sizeable investment ever by a Japanese firm in Southeast Asia's healthcare sector.

Then, there was Oji Paper Co Ltd's RM258 million takeover launch for packaging firm HPI Resources Bhd in June.

Of course, not to forget the retail giant Uniclo opening its stores here last year to huge, enthusiastic crowds and two of Japan's top banks - Mizuho and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group setting up commercial banks here this year.

It's quite clear that Japan's interest here extends into pretty much every sector.

This is good news for Malaysia, which needs to beef up its foreign direct investments (FDIs). The interest also comes at a time when investment and trade from within Asia are being encouraged.

The fact is, Japan has long been one of the major sources of FDI for Malaysia. While it was a deliberate move by the government to woo Japanese investors in the '80s in line with its Look East policy, this time around, economists said the sudden pick-up in Japanese interest can be put down to pure commercial and business reasons.

Japanese investors have been looking for opportunities and better returns in faster-growing economies like Malaysia and Indonesia, particularly after the earthquake-and-tsunami disaster in March looked set to crimp growth at home. (Business Times)


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