Less than two months after agreeing to buy a 41% stake in auto-parts maker Calsonic Kansei (TKO: 7248) from Nissan (TKO: 7201) for about $4.5 billion, KKR has announced another 10-figure acquisition in Japan. KKR will pay JPY1,450 per common share of Hitachi Koki (TKO: 6581) stock, a deal that values the manufacturer of power tools at roughly $1.3 billion. To finance the purchase from Hitachi (TKO: 6501), KKR will deploy its Asian Fund II, a $6 billion vehicle that closed in 2013.
On both recent deals, KKR has capitalized on large Japanese conglomerates looking to divest some of their ancillary assets. If that trend continues, perhaps 2017 will be a healthier year for US private equity investors going into Japan than 2016—when just nine such transpacific deals took place, according to the PitchBook Platform, tied for the lowest total since 2008.
That figure was particularly surprising considering recent history: In each of the previous three years, deal count increased for American investors venturing into Japan. And for the most part, it’s been a select group of firms leading the way. The Carlyle Group has completed 17 deals in Japan since the start of 2008, followed by Lone Star Funds (14) and Bain Capital (11); after that, no firm has made more than four deals in the island nation.