MUFG chief plans to ramp up assets in U.S. and Asia

Fri Apr 12, 2013 11:22am EDT
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By Taiga Uranaka

TOKYO (Reuters) - Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (8306.T: Quote) plans to ramp up asset acquisitions in the United States and Asia, including acquisitions of local banks, its new head said, as Japanese lenders accelerate their overseas push to make up for falling spread margins at home.

"Given its broad and deep market, the United States is the place of importance for us. And in Asia, we expect strong growth," said Nobuyuki Hirano, who became president of the world's 12th largest bank by market capital in April.

The interview was conducted before the Bank of Japan surprised the market with radical monetary stimulus actions, including buying about 70 percent of government bonds sold in markets.

These moves are likely to push down already razor-thin loan interest rates, putting further pressure on the banks to increase their reliance on more promising markets elsewhere.

Earlier this week, MUFG acquired a U.S. commercial property loan portfolio from a Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE: Quote) unit worth $3.7 billion, making the Japanese bank the ninth biggest commercial real estate lender in the United States, up from 17th.

Hirano took over the helm of the company that has been aggressively been snapping up assets of overseas rivals. MUFG acquired over 20 percent stake in Morgan Stanley (MS.N: Quote) at the height of the financial crisis in 2008 and bought a $6.4 billion project financing loan book from Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L: Quote) in 2010.

Hirano said his bank plans to expand its U.S. subsidiary, Union Bank, by "making full use of both inorganic and organic means."

In addition to the California-based bank with $97 billion in assets, MUFG also has its own team of bankers and branch network in the United States. Hirano said his company is considering setting up a U.S. holding company to better manage its expanding operations.   Continued...

Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ's (BTMU) Nobuyuki Hirano speaks during news conference at the Bank of Japan in Tokyo January 30, 2012. REUTERS/Toru Hanai