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Japan's pension fund starts recruiting managers for alternative assets

TOKYO — Japan's Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) on Tuesday began recruiting asset managers for investments in private equity, infrastructure and real estate, as the world's largest pension fund's embrace of riskier assets gathers pace.

In its first recruitment of outside managers for investments in so-called alternative assets, GPIF is looking to hire an unspecified number of institutional investors to oversee bets in Japan and other developed countries.

The fund in 2014 reduced its holdings of low-yielding domestic government bonds and invested more in stocks. The landmark move followed a government push to spur higher returns on pension investments and jolt Japan out of deflation.

The scale of investment in the three asset classes would not be decided until after the fund has assessed candidates' investment capacities, a GPIF spokesman said. Initial checks on applications are set to begin on June 1.

As with GPIF's current investments in stocks and bonds, the managers for alternative assets will oversee "fund of funds" products in accounts created especially for GPIF, according to an advertisement on the fund's website.

GPIF managed ¥144.8 trillion ($1.31 trillion) worth of assets as of December, and last month posted a third-quarter gain of $92 billion on the back of a rally in the Japanese stock market.

GPIF's upper limit on alternative investments was set at 5 percent of its total pension reserve fund, but as of the end of December it stood at 0.07 percent. — Reuters