GLOBAL - The Japan Engagement fund (JEF) has made its first investments in a number of small to mid-cap quoted companies in Japan.

The joint venture between Governance for Owners (GO) and Tokio Marine Asset Management (TMAM) was launched with seed capital provided by institutional investors from Japan and Europe, including Swedish national pension fund AP4, private holding company IPGL and 10 partners of Governance for Owners (GO), including founders Peter Butler and Steve Brown, and Tokyo-based partners.

Mats Andersson, chief executive at AP4, said: “We are pleased to be a seed investor in the Japan Engagement fund. AP4 has a long record as committed active owners, and we have always believed that governance must have a strong local anchor.”

Peter Butler, chief executive at GO, added: “Japan needs responsible and engaged shareholders to help improve equity values over the long term.

“[JEF] will also help to resolve some of the long-standing challenges facing the Japanese economy.”

The Tokyo-based JEF team of Japanese nationals engages with senior managers and directors of investee companies with the aim to help them create long-term value and provide outperformance for investors.

Structured as a UK limited partnership with GO as the general partner, JEF represents the first time Japanese and non-Japanese institutional investors have combined in this way to encourage enhanced returns from Japanese quoted equities.

Key personnel in Japan include CIO at TMAM Hiro Kasai; director of investment at JEF Ken Kobayashi; director of engagement at JEF Kenji Iwamoto; head of research at JEF Tomishi Ishida; representative director at GO Japan Toshi Oguchi; and head of responsible investment at GO Japan Yoshi Maeda.