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World’s largest pension denies claims it will invest in US

Japan’s GPIF intends to invest more in infrastructure in 2017 but is keen to underline its investment decisions remain insulated from government influence.

The Government Pension Investment Fund has spoken out to reaffirm its independence in response to a Nikkei report stating the pension could help strengthen economic cooperation between Japan and the US by investing in American infrastructure.

The pension’s president Norihiro Takahashi said GPIF has been managing its reserve assets, including infrastructure, solely for the long-term benefit of pension recipients and stated that “this principle remains unchanged”.

An article in Nikkei, a business daily, on Wednesday said GPIF would buy debt issued by American corporates to fund President Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure programme as part of an economic cooperation package to be discussed at next week’s summit in Washington between the two countries’ leaders. GPIF issued the response yesterday on its website and twitter.

In a Reuters interview last month, the pension’s president said it was looking to increase investment in private equity and infrastructure in 2017 through hiring external fund managers.

Takahashi said he and chief investment officer Hiromichi Mizuno have met other institutional investors including the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board and Singapore’s GIC to discuss potential joint investments. “We would like to first do fund-of-funds type of investment, and second we would invest through these special projects with other big investment funds like CPPIB or GIC to join us and co-invest in big projects,” he said.

The investments would probably target assets outside Japan due to the lack of dealflow at home, he added.

GPIF can invest up to five percent of its 132 trillion-yen ($1.17 trillion; €1.08 trillion) portfolio in alternative investments. Its allocation stood at 0.05 percent as of end of September 2016, according to its Q2 2016 investment results. In 2014, GPIF teamed up with Canada’s OMERS and the Development Bank of Japan to co-invest in projects in developed countries.