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AVCJ Private Equity & Venture Forum Japan 2023

The premier private equity & venture forum in Japan

The Conrad, Tokyo and online

08.00 - 08.55

Registration and refreshments

09.00 - 09.10
09.40 - 10.25

Global outlook: Navigating market turbulence

Geopolitical unrest, inflationary pressure, and rising interest rates have contributed to an uncertain investment environment. Investors in private markets must demonstrate agility to address these concerns while remaining mindful and strategically attuned to longer-term opportunities. Innovation – from uncovering new sources of capital and originating proprietary deal flow to careful deal structuring, meaningful value creation initiatives, and thoughtful exit planning – is increasingly important. Our panel of industry experts assess their responses to current market conditions.

  • What constitutes a defensive investment opportunity?
  • How do managers address geopolitical risk?
  • What makes this cycle different from the last?
  • How has the LP-GP relationship evolved over the last two years?
10.25 - 10.50

Networking Coffee Break

Sponsored by

10.50 - 11.35

Japan update: Sustaining momentum

Could Japanese private equity emerge relatively unscathed from a downturn? Investors point to a mature and predictable economy, a flight to safety as capital looks for targets beyond emerging markets like China, tried and tested investment theses, and robust structural trends around corporate divestment. This doesn’t mean it will be easy – not least because certain sectors have struggled in recent years, exit timelines are being extended, and deal financing is harder to secure.

  • How has the pace of investment changed in different market segments?
  • What can GPs do to capture growth in Japan while being mindful of risk?
  • Is there enough creativity in terms of exit planning?
  • What progress is being made on ESG measurement and reporting? 
12.05 - 12.50

Mid-market: Japan’s enduring sweet spot?

Providing solutions to companies founders who face succession challenges remains the lifeblood of Japan’s middle market. Private equity firms can also harvest plentiful low-hanging fruit by professionalising processes and management. Digitalisation is the relatively new trick in the operational playbook. It is incumbent on managers to ensure their skillsets are relevant, not only to take advantage of these opportunities but also to secure deals in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Our panellists offer their insights.

  • Valuations and expectations – what has changed in the past two years?
  • What does a downturn mean for middle-market deal flow?
  • How is the M&A advisory landscape evolving?
  • Is it becoming harder to raise a mid-cap fund?
12.50 - 13.50


13.50 - 14.35

Buyouts: Betting bigger

Large-cap deal flow in Japan has risen in recent years, driven by corporate carve-outs and tender offers for listed companies. Investors were less active in 2022 than 2021, but Japan held up well compared to most markets in the region. Moreover, bullishness is stoked by a belief that divestments represent a long-term structural trend. This has led to fiercely contested auction processes and rich valuations, which means GPs must find more operational levers to pull. 

  • What can managers to do to differentiate themselves from the competition?
  • Are activist investors becoming a more significant driver of deal flow?
  • How much leveraged financing is available and on what terms?
  • Will sponsor-to-sponsor transactions become the main source of deal flow?
14.35 - 15.20

LP viewpoint: Staying committed through the cycle

Institutional investors globally have been forced to contend with a shift from buoyant markets and the risk of under-allocation to private equity to volatility and the reality of over-allocation. The Japanese experience – as far as international portfolios are concerned – has been exacerbated by currency depreciation. Recent entrants to the alternatives space may consider pulling back, but wiser heads counsel maintaining exposure across cycles. A panel of experienced LPs offer insights into strategy and manager selection.

  • Which geographies are most likely to generate alpha?
  • How are LPs approaching currency hedging?
  • Are GPs being disciplined enough on portfolio valuations?
  • What are the expectations for distributions in 2023?
15.20 - 15.50

Networking Coffee Break

Sponsored by

15.50 - 16.35

Operations: Making smart decisions amid uncertainty

Private equity investors globally have enjoyed more than a decade of benign economic conditions, cheap debt, and rising valuations. COVID-19 amounted to an unforeseen point of reckoning, but the fallout has been protracted. Investors are now facing a combination of macroeconomic and geopolitical challenges on a scale few have experienced. GPs are having to act decisively under pressure, whether that means shoring up portfolio companies, pivoting to new business models, or damage limitation on exit.

  • How can GPs address supply chain and labour pressures in Japan?
  • What is the key to effective communication with management teams?
  • Can current operational improvement models in Japan deliver results in the current climate?
  • How are companies being conditions to emerge stronger from the downturn?
17.05 - 17.10

End of day one

17.10 - 18.10

Cocktail reception

09.00 - 09.45

Japan Private Equity in 2023: Opportunity in turbulence

The Japan private equity market had another strong year in 2022 with deal value of ¥2.8T, nearly as high as 2021’s record of ¥3.2T. 2023 is also off to a good start. In a turbulent world, Japan PE benefited as investors shifted focus away from China, while the yen’s depreciation created opportunities. While fundamental growth drivers for the market continue to provide tailwinds, PE is now also winning a larger share of M&A deals, in line with other developed markets.
Turbulence is also a time of opportunity for PE portfolio companies. Activist-owned portfolio companies can outperform slower-moving competition with clear plans, active engagement, and greater speed to action. While doing so, PE in Japan will need to focus on exiting earlier and better, to ensure the strong growth in capital deployment is accompanied by increased distributions to LPs.
Bain Partners will review key market trends and recommendation for investors to succeed in today’s volatile environment.

09.45 - 10.30

Investment spotlight: Accessing the global opportunities

Many Japanese LPs have initiated or scaled up private markets investment programmes, making the country an increasingly recognised target on the global fundraising trail. They must assess which strategies, structures and geographies are most appropriate for growing programmes and then find the right partners. This is especially challenging when markets change course and track records become even more detached from expectations of future performance. Our experts consider the best ways to access global private equity.

  • North America vs Europe – how do the risk-return dynamics compare?
  • What are the key considerations when choosing investment partners?
  • How should ESG factor into manager selection?
  • Are global GPs doing enough to build relationships with Japanese LPs?
10.30 - 11.15

Venture capital: The next level

Japan’s VC managers are being asked the same questions as their global peers on valuation policies, portfolio exposure, and exit timelines. Beneath the surface, however, there remains a sense that the country’s start-up ecosystem is at an inflection point; that the investment opportunity, especially in areas like deep technology, has barely been tapped. Our panellists consider the characteristics that will define the next generation of local start-ups and how quickly they can achieve global scale.

  • What makes Japan an attractive market for venture capital?
  • Which will deliver the most alpha: deep tech, climate tech, or biotech?
  • What has happened to growth-stage funding?
  • How are investing thinking through their exit options?
11.15 - 11.40

Networking Coffee Break

Sponsored by

11.40 - 12.25

Asia opportunities: A changing landscape

Private equity investment in Asia fell sharply in 2022 from the previous year, but still posted the second-highest annual total on record. The declines were most pronounced in emerging markets where much of the recent uplift was driven by growth-stage technology deals. Developed economies didn’t suffer as much. China remains a challenge for many investors, but the overarching question in all markets is whether managers can continue to thrive under very different economic conditions.

  • Is sector specialisation becoming more pervasive in Asia?
  • Which are the most attractive geographies for VC?
  • What are the key due diligence questions when assessing Asian GPs?
  • How are the LP bases of country-focused managers evolving?
12.25 - 13.10

Private debt: Finding the right strategies

The private debt proposition has always been predicated on filling the gap created by banks withdrawing from traditional lending. This may become even more pertinent in a challenging economic environment, but credit investors are also increasingly selective and mindful of downside protection and jurisdictional risk. An influx of sub-strategies – offered by specialists and multi-asset managers – means LPs have more access points than ever before. Our panellists share their views on how to navigate the market.

  • What is top-of-mind for credit investors right now?
  • How have credit strategies changed post-COVID-19?
  • Are special situations and distress opportunities emerging in greater number?
  • Are Japanese investors looking to access private credit in different ways?
13.10 - 13.15

Close of conference

13.15 - 14.15

Networking Lunch