The long goodbye: Japanese firms slowly sell assets

Japanese companies are finally willing to cut the cord and sell non-core assets to private equity firms. But supply is limited — and bidding looks likely to be ultra-competitive.

When Mark Chiba flew to Wendy’s headquarters in Columbus, Ohio in April for a meeting with the US firm’s top management to negotiate the combination of Wendy’s Japanese franchise with First Kitchen a subsidiary of the conservative, family-controlled Japanese conglomerate Suntory Holdings he knew it would be tough.

The relatively small and complicated deal, put together during secret meetings, required a sensitive balancing act. Chiba’s private equity firm, Longreach, needed to focus on bridging the gap between two very different corporate cultures. 

Unlike in the US, where funds are ubiquitous in high-profile auctions of multi-billion-dollar assets, private equity is only just starting to win...

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