SoftBank's Fortress to invest 400b yen in Japanese property


FORTRESS Investment Group, a unit of SoftBank Group Corp., plans to invest as much as 400 billion yen (S$4.9 billion) in Japanese property as it takes advantage of asset sales by local governments and agencies.

The investment firm will target hotels, onsen spas, office buildings, data centres and condominiums throughout the country, according to Akio Yamashita, Fortress' representative in Japan.

The company will renovate sites and seek new tenants for a higher return, he said.

SoftBank bought New York-based Fortress for US$3.3 billion in 2017 as billionaire Masayoshi Son began re-positioning his empire as a heavyweight investment house.

The Tokyo-based company's technology will be integrated into the new Japanese properties, including introducing its hotel booking, customer support and revenue management systems, Mr Yamashita said.

Fortress has already invested 600 billion yen in Japanese property since 2009 and expects to accelerate the pace as the public sector sells more assets to reduce debt.

It owns hotel operator Mystays Hotel Management, which has 15,000 rooms from Sapporo in the north to Ishigaki Island in the south, and operates the Invincible Investment Corp real estate investment trust (Reit).

"We can't do hotel business without having franchises and want to be more efficient by introducing SoftBank's technology," Mr Yamashita, 57, said in an interview. "We also have exit strategies as we own Reits, which differentiates us from our competitors."

Mr Yamashita has been with Fortress for more than a decade, joining in 2008 after working at Morgan Stanley.

In 2015, Fortress won a bid to acquire Osaka Bay Tower for 8.6 billion yen from the city and has injected almost as much into developing a 16,500 square-metre theme park with onsen spa resort, restaurants and gardens near Universal Studios Japan.

The project will open next week.

Invincible Investment, which is managed by Fortress' Consonant Investment Management, purchases about 80 billion yen worth of assets every year from Fortress and others.

The Reit's occupancy ratio for its properties and earnings position is "growing strongly", Mr Yamashita said. BLOOMBERG

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