IFM selects head of Japan

IFM Investors, the A$48 billion (€34 billion; $46 billion) Melbourne-based fund manager formerly known as Industry Funds Management, has selected Eddy Schipper to head the Japan office it hopes to open early next year, according to a firm statement.

Schipper, currently IFM’s executive director for business development, would relocate to Japan once the Tokyo office opens, hopefully in January of next year. He would continue his current responsibilities of interacting with institutional investors on behalf of IFM with Japanese institutions. IFM would hire

IFM’s Japan office is just the latest in a series of efforts by the firm to expand globally. It opened an office in Berlin this year and enhanced capacity on the ground in the UK and US.  With Schipper’s transfer, 25 percent of IFM staff are now based overseas, according to the statement.

With almost $14 billion invested in infrastructure globally, IFM has been doing extensive due diligence in Japan over the past few years, and is now working on visa and licensing issues to set up an office by January of next year, according to Brett Himbury, the firm’s chief executive.

“Our investors are increasingly seeking investment opportunities in Asia, and Tokyo provides a strong hub for accessing both Japan and the broader region,” Himbury said in the statement. IFM chose Tokyo as its Asia destination of choice primarily because of the institutional investor base already there, Himbury explained to Infrastructure Investor. So far, IFM has a small exposure to Asia through its private equity investments, but none so far in infrastructure.

Himbury emphasised that IFM will not be investing directly in Japan just yet. Instead, IFM will be focusing on attracting institutional investor capital from Japan to invest in global infrastructure. Eventually, the firm hopes to nurture an investor base in Asia to complement its existing one in Australia.

“This is a long-term commitment for IFM,” Himbury said. “Initially, we will focus on our global infrastructure debt assets and then look to broaden this over time.” IFM will also hire a local team in Japan to function under Schipper’s leadership, but the firm did not give a timeline for when its hiring would be complete.