AQR Capital Management obtained the licenses it needed to engage directly with leading institutional investors in Japan, said the head of the Greenwich, Conn-based manager's Asia-Pacific business.
Jeffrey Dunn, a Sydney-based principal with AQR Australia and head of Asia-Pacific for the parent firm, said in an interview an office AQR opened with little fanfare in Tokyo earlier this year can now work to build deep relationships with the country's largest, most sophisticated investors.
Until this month, the firm had relied on domestic partners in Japan as intermediaries in managing money for local clients, which didn't allow AQR to form the kind of partnerships with top asset owners it has built its business around in other markets, said Mr. Dunn.
AQR had assets under management globally of $226 billion as of Sept. 30, of which roughly $33 billion was managed on behalf of clients based in the Asia-Pacific region. More than 70% of the Asia-Pacific total comes from Australia. Mr. Dunn declined to say how much the firm currently manages for Japanese clients.
AQR will continue to work with intermediaries in serving segments of Japan's institutional investor universe, but it will focus now on engaging with big, deep organizations regarding "the problems they're trying to solve," said Mr. Dunn.
AQR's Tokyo office, with five investment professionals at present, is led by Matei Mihalca, the head of the Tokyo office as well as the firm's representative in Japan. Mr. Mihalca was previously based in Hong Kong, serving as AQR's head of business development for Asia.
In addition, Tomomi Shige joined AQR in Tokyo earlier this year as head of business development, and Michinori Kanokogi joined as head of investment management.
Mr. Shige previously served as head of investment specialists at Amundi Japan, while Mr. Kanokogi was a senior client portfolio manager with Russell Investments Japan. Spokesmen for Amundi and Russell couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
Mr. Mihalca will retain his previous responsibilities as head of business development for the region.