Rumor has it that U.S. private equity giant KKR could be investing in Japan. More specifically, into Panasonic Corp’s health-care unit. The healthcare unit has had two years of annual losses. If the purchase goes through, it could be worth up to $1.5 billion and would be KKR’s largest ever investment in a Japanese company. Last year, KKR had tried to invest in a chipmaking company, Renesas Elecronics Corp, but was one-upped by the Innovation Network Corp of Japan—a state-backed organization.
The company has recently been hard at work expanding its global portfolio, especially in Asia, where it recently raised $6 billion. Former General David Petraeus is KKR’s new head of the Global Institute, which is responsible for recognizing and acting on geopolitical and macro-economic trends.
KKR could purchase the company on its own using the Asia fund, or it could enter into a partnership with the Innovation Network Corp. of Japan. Neither KKR nor KKR have officially commented on the possibility.
Japanese acquisitions have proven difficult for KKR and other private equity firms in the past, as the Japanese government has concerns about companies being pared down to up profitability. While KKR could afford the acquisition on its own, a joint purchase with INCJ could put some of those concerns to rest and help secure a deal.
KKR is headed by co-founders and co-CEOs Henry Kravis and George Roberts. KKR shares interest in Panasonic with Toshiba and Bain Capital, another U.S. private equity company. If the Panasonic agrees to a deal with KKR, it could bolster economic growth in Japan.