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Japan: Investors start to get active

A new breed of fund manager is shaking up Japanese markets

The mice do play: but Tokyo Disneyland's
owner could be under threat from a
prowling predator

In a sign that the consensus-driven ways of old corporate Japan are on the wane, a new breed of investor is emerging that is unafraid to ask difficult questions of management and even willing to force their hands. The latest enfant terrible to take the establishment to task is the confusingly named Privée Suisse Turnaround Group Co, run by two former Salomon Smith Barney executives. Describing itself as an investment company whose purpose is the "control and supervision of turnaround targeted companies through equity acquisition or invested capital", Privée Suisse has nothing to do with Switzerland or Swiss private banking and everything to do with extracting profits from investments in undervalued companies.

The latest firm to receive the Privée Suisse treatment is Keisei Electric Railway Co, which provides passenger rail and bus transportation services in Tokyo as well as operating department stores, travel agencies, hotels and other retail businesses. Crucially, Keisei also owns a 22.8% stake in listed Oriental Land, which operates Tokyo Disneyland.

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