According to The Australian Financial Review today, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Japan's largest bank, held a grand dinner in Sydney on Tuesday night to celebrate 30 years since it was awarded a banking licence in Australia.
In its early days in Australia, most of BTMU's lending was to expanding Japanese companies, but it now earns more revenue in Australia from banking non-Japanese corporates – often through loan syndicates alongside the major Australian banks.
It has $13 billion of loans in Australia to non-financial companies, including to mega-infrastructure projects such as the Port of Brisbane, toll roads Peninsula Link and Connect East, and energy deals including the Dampier Bunbury Natural Gas Pipeline. It is also funding large mining and energy projects, including Pilbara iron ore mine Roy Hill, and the Ichthys LNG project off the north-west coast.
Nobuyuki Hirano, the president and chief executive of BTMU and of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, BTMU's parent company, told Fairfax Media on Tuesday the bank wants to do more lending in Australia and to diversify its portfolio into healthcare, food and value-added services, while also bolstering its advisory work.
He also said Japanese companies were increasingly keen on doing deals in Australia. "Investment in Australia is attracting more interest," he said, pointing to the $6.5 billion acquisition of Toll Holdings by Japan Post in February and the arrival of retailer Uniqlo, attracted to Australia because the population is growing and incomes are relatively high.
Go Watanabe, BTMU's CEO for Asia and Oceania, said "Most of Japan's big and mid-sized companies, in order to grow, have to look for opportunities outside Japan," he said. "Despite the devaluation of the yen, they are getting more aggressive looking for more opportunities to buy and invest into foreign assets and companies. That's a trend we will see continue. And many companies are looking for those opportunities in Australia."
"Natural resources will keep its importance, not only for Australia but also for Japan," Mr Hirano said. "We are the second-largest trade partner with Australia and that won't change, no matter how the price might fluctuate. So Australia will keep its position as a steady exporter and provider of natural resources and energy to Japan."
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