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BASF backs $100 million Japanese investment fund

by Jean-François Tremblay
February 11, 2008 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 86, Issue 6

BASF Venture Capital, a BASF subsidiary that invests in start-up companies, will contribute $2 million to a new fund investing in emerging high-tech Japanese companies involved in drug discovery, medical devices, new materials, software, and telecommunications.

The new investment vehicle, FinTech GIMV Fund, has already raised more than half of the $100 million it intends to spend. The fund is backed primarily by the Japanese financial consulting firm FinTech Global Capital; Belgium's largest private equity firm, GIMV; and the state-owned Development Bank of Japan.

"There is no other fund in Japan with our strategy," says Mizuhiko Hashimoto, a Tokyo-based FinTech executive who will advise the fund in the fields of new materials, semiconductors, and medical equipment. "We will invest in Japanese companies that want to grow their business outside Japan and in overseas companies that are taking their business to Japan." He says the fund may help smaller firms get acquired by bigger players in their industries.

Gerhard Fasol, CEO of the Tokyo-based high-technology consulting firm Eurotechnology, tells C&EN that venture capital firms have been active in Japan for many years. One interesting new opportunity, he says, is the emerging practice of Japanese universities to create spin-offs based on technologies they have developed.

BASF says its investment may give it access to Japanese innovations in the fields of energy management, new raw materials, nanotechnology, plant biotechnology, and industrial biotechnology. Knut Eichler, investment manager for BASF East Asia, calls Japan "a global front-runner in megatrend technologies."


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