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Best Bank Awards

Japan's best corporate and investment bank 2017: MUFG

MUFG

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) has been far and away the most aggressive of Japan’s megabanks when it comes to expanding overseas.

The bank has tripled its overseas loan book in the last decade, now employs around 40% of its staff outside of Japan, and holds stakes in a variety of Asian banks, including Thailand’s Bank of Ayudhya and Vietnam’s Vietinbank.

A lot of MUFG’s success can be attributed to the determined leadership and international focus of long-serving chief executive Nobuyuki Hirano, a banker held in high esteem by his peers around the world.

But it is MUFG’s tie-up with US investment bank Morgan Stanley, in which it owns around 23%, that has given it an advantage over the competition. MUFG earns 60% of profits from the two securities joint ventures the firms have set up in Japan. The JV relationship has given it a real boost in its attempt to advise Japanese clients on offshore mergers, private equity firms heading the other way and a raft of domestic companies eager to tap the capital markets.

The tie-up has ensured that MUFG’s team has had a presence on some blockbuster deals this year, including a ¥348.5 billion ($3.2 billion) equity sale from Renesas Electronics and a ¥170 billion global yen deal for Wal-Mart. The firm also played a big role on the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s inaugural green bond, helping develop a market that offers plenty of promise in the years to come.

In early November, there were news reports that MUFG was planning to take a 40% stake in Bank Danamon, an Indonesian lender. MUFG denied the reports when asked by Asiamoney, adding that the news was not based on any official announcement. Time will tell whether or not a deal emerges, but the move appears to fit with MUFG’s modus operandi: making bold investments in overseas markets as it continues to push for new sources of revenues.

That approach has served MUFG well. But its willingness to partner with foreign institutions has given it much more than simply an offshore presence. It has also given MUFG the firepower across different asset classes to be rightly considered Asiamoney’s best corporate and investment bank in Japan.

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