(KaneAdds Apollo confirmation; paragraph 5)
By Junko Fujita and Kane Wu
TOKYO/HONG KONG, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Private equity firm Apollo Global Management has hired a former executive from rival Bain Capital to head its operations in Tokyo, becoming the latest global fund to set up shop in Japan, five people with knowledge of the matter said.
Apollo has hired Tetsuji Okamoto, a managing director at Bain Capital, who starts the new role this month, said one of the individuals, who all sought anonymity, as the information was private.
With Japan one of its target markets in Asia, the firm plans to hire more staff there to explore corporate carve-outs and deals with small and mid-sized companies, the person added.
Okamoto was mainly responsible for debt financing at Bain Capital, another of the sources said.
On Thursday night, Apollo confirmed the hiring. Okamoto will start on Monday, reporting to Steve Martinez, a senior partner and head of Asia Pacific for the company, it said in a statement.
A Bain Capital representative declined to comment.
Apollo’s move comes after Blackstone Group last year built up its corporate buyout team in Tokyo.
Other global private equity firms, such as KKR & Co and Carlyle Group, have been eyeing opportunities in Japan, where large companies are expected to spin off non-core businesses to focus on areas with growth potential.
Japanese firms are under pressure to resolve potential conflicts of interest between publicly traded parent companies and listed subsidiaries, which could prompt some firms to sell listed units.
Japanese conglomerate Hitachi Ltd is in the process of selling its chemical unit Hitachi Chemical Co, which has a market value of 848 billion yen ($7.8 billion).
However, Japan’s multi-billion-dollar deals are still limited to just a few each year.
Blackstone bought drug maker Ayumi Pharmaceutical Corp in a deal worth around $1 billion in March, its first non-property deal in Japan.
In February, MBK Partners bought Belgian chocolate maker Godiva Chocolatier’s operations in Japan, South Korea and Australia in a deal worth between $1 billion and $1.5 billion. . ($1=108.6400 yen)
Reporting by Junko Fujita in Tokyo and Kane Wu in Hong Kong; editing by Richard Pullin