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Japan’s Dai-ichi sets sail to Europe with wind deal

The insurance giant has made its first move into offshore wind with a €30m investment in a German plant.

Japanese insurer Dai-ichi Life Insurance has invested €30 million in a German offshore wind farm as it seeks to ramp up its infrastructure exposure.

Dai-ichi, one of Japan’s largest insurance companies, said the investment will enable the company to transfer skills and knowledge gathered through its involvement in overseas projects to Japan’s fledgling offshore wind market. While there are no commercial-scale plants operating in the country at present, Dai-ichi said about 2GW of offshore wind farms are scheduled to begin operations by 2020.

Dai-ichi added that its outlay on the German project came in the form of an investment trust, although it did not state whether this was a debt or equity investment. It also did not disclose the specific wind farm it has invested in. The move is part of Dai-ichi’s strategy, unveiled in 2013, to diversify into infrastructure in a bid to expand its risk portfolio and chase better yields. This has mainly seen it limit investments to Southeast Asia so far, although last year it contributed ¥10 billion ($99 million; €88 million) in seed money to a ¥100 billion infrastructure debt fund managed by Mizuho Global Alternative Investments. Dai-ichi said its investment in infrastructure and project finance in its financial year 2016 exceeded ¥100 billion through nine deals.

Dai-ichi has become the latest Japanese investor in Germany’s offshore wind market after trading group Itochu bought a 22.5 per cent stake in the 288MW Butendiek project last month. Japanese investors also hold stakes in offshore projects in Belgium and the UK.