Green Eco-nomics For Loan Rangers
Who says money doesn’t grow on trees? As of March, Sumitomo Trust & Banking Co. started offering low-interest loans to green companies, or those the bank regards as making active efforts to protect the environment. Firms seeking the loans will be sent a questionnaire that asks about their efforts in such areas as energy conservation, pollution, regulatory compliance and biodiversity preservation.
The questionnaire consists of 60 questions for manufacturers and 50 questions for non-manufacturers. Based on the replies, the bank will rate their eco-efforts on a six-level scale, from AAA to D. Firms that win top-four ratings will be eligible for loans with interest rates up to 0.6 percentage points lower than standard rates.
Those with top-four ratings will also be able to receive interest subsidies from the Japan Environment Association, on the condition that they meet certain carbon dioxide emissions criteria. Companies that receive both the loan and interest subsidy may be able to avoid interest payments for up to three years.
The bank will also provide each company, free of charge, a report offering feedback on the questionnaires. The reports will give companies an idea about where they need to strengthen efforts to qualify for the loan. The bank plans to strengthen sales of these services while promoting the new “eco-loan.”
Dai-ichi Mutual: Time To Take Stock
Discount the flagging real economy for a minute: Japan’s financial markets are racing on pure adrenaline as Japan’s largest initial public offering in a decade—and the second largest in Asia so far this year—is slated to take place on April 1st.
Dai-ichi Mutual Life Insurance, Japan’s second-largest life insurer with a history dating back to 1902, is set to list on the Tokyo Stock Exchange with an IPO estimated at around $11.7 billion, with shares tentatively set at 125,000 to 150,000 yen a piece, as of press time.
The insurer is currently mutually held by its 8.21 million policyholders. As part of its demutualization, it will allocate stocks or cash to policyholders. Dai-ichi is the first of Japan’s domestic life insurance companies to demutualize and go public.
Among the 10 million shares to be issued, 7.106 million shares will be offered to the public. To secure stable shareholders, it will allocate 2.1 million shares of the total offering to major banks, brokerages and insurers, including Mizuho Financial Group Inc., Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Merrill Lynch Japan Securities Co. and Goldman Sachs Japan.
The number of IPOs is expected to reach 30 to 40 companies, as companies turn to Japan’s healthier markets to raise funds, according to Dealogic. The number of IPOs completed in Japan last year declined to 20 from 49 in 2008, and the dollars raised fell 53 percent to $603 million.
MF’s New Asia Head: Shogo Ishii
China may be overtaking Japan as the world’s second largest economy, but the International Monetary Fund’s top Asian appointment looks set to remain under Japanese stewardship for now. Veteran economist Shogo Ishii will assume directorship for the IMF’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific as of April, succeeding Akira Ariyoshi, who will be taking an academic post at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo.
Currently, there are two Japanese nationals in the institution’s top brass: Deputy Managing Director Takatoshi Kato and Ariyoshi. Ishii joined the IMF in 1981 and has held a number of key positions in Asia, such as mission chief to Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam, and senior resident representative in Thailand.
His track record at the IMF also includes assignments in the former Monetary and Exchange Affairs Department and the former Policy Development and Review Department. He was also an adviser at the Export-Import Bank of Japan from 1989 to 1992. Ishii holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in economics from Nanzan University in Nagoya, central Japan, and a doctorate in economics from the University of Oregon.