The TCW Group has become the latest money management firm to start building an equity stake in the Japanese market.

TCW of Los Angeles will acquire a 30 percent stake in a money management subsidiary of Yasuda Fire & Marine Insurance Co., Japan's second largest property and casualty insurer. TCW, an institutional money manager which is taking steps to broaden its distribution, also will manage two mutual funds and other investments for Yasuda and its asset management subsidiary, Yasuda Kasai Global Asset Management.

Officials from the companies did not disclose the terms of the transaction. Marc I. Stern, president of TCW, said in a statement that the deal is a part of TCW's "strategy to significantly expand our channels of distribution."

TCW, with more than $50 billion in assets, is in the midst of a proxy campaign asking shareholders of its institutionally-oriented Galileo funds to make changes which would broaden the distribution of those funds.

TCW's is the latest move in what has become a push by U.S. mutual fund firms to enter the Japanese market. Last month, T. Rowe Price Associates said it will invest approximately $16 million for a ten percent stake in an asset management company it will create with Sumitomo Bank and Daiwa Securities Co. Putnam Investments and Liberty Financial Co., among others, have entered into alliances in an effort to build distribution in the Japanese mutual fund market.

Yasuda Kasai Global Asset Management, with approximately $7 billion in assets under management, is the 20th largest money management firm in Japan. The firm expects to distribute its mutual funds through Yasuda's captive sales force of approximately 9,000 agents.

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