Neuberger Berman appoints new chair of Japan Working Group of ACGA

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Neuberger Berman, a private, independent, employee-owned investment manager, has appointed Kei Okamura to the Chair of the Japan Working Group (JWG) of the Asian Corporate Governance Association (ACGA).   

ACGA, based in Hong Kong, is an independent, non-profit membership organisation dedicated to working with investors, companies, and regulators in the implementation of effective corporate governance practices throughout Asia. ACGA was founded in 1999 from a belief that sound and improving corporate governance is fundamental to the long-term development of Asian economies and capital markets. The JWG is a sub-group of ACGA investor members comprised of like-minded professionals committed to advancing corporate governance and investment stewardship in Japan on behalf of their organisations.  

Jamie Allen, founding secretary general of the ACGA, states: “Japan has long been a key market for ACGA’s advocacy work in Asia. We are very pleased to welcome Kei as the new chair of our Japan Working Group (JWG) at this critical juncture in Japan’s corporate governance and ESG evolution. Kei brings the perfect blend of expert knowledge, communication skills and organisational abilities to the role. We have no doubt that the JWG will go from strength to strength under his leadership.”  

Jonathan Bailey, head of ESG investing at Neuberger Berman, says: “The ACGA plays an important role in the advancement of corporate governance practices in Japan. As a global investor with a strong local presence in Japan, we are delighted that Kei will be able to bring our market expertise to help further the ACGA’s efforts. We believe the promotion of sound corporate governance is foundational to long-term, sustainable value creation for clients.”  

Okamura says: “I am delighted to be appointed as the ACGA’s Chair of the Japan Working Group. As long-term active investors, Neuberger Berman has always considered sound corporate governance as one of the crucial factors of quality companies and plays a determining factor in our investment decision making and engagement strategies. Over the years, we have continued to work very closely with ACGA on that front to gain better understanding of corporate governance issues of various market around this region and to exchange perspectives on governance best practices with regulators and industry associations. Through this role, I would like to help lead ACGA’s efforts to bring together the views and voices of the Japan Working Group (JWG) to improve corporate governance across companies in Japan including those of our investment holdings. I look forward to working closely with ACGA and its JWG members to help lead Japanese corporate governance in the right direction to ultimately achieve long-term sustainable growth for the market and our portfolios.”  

As a director of Japan investment stewardship of the Japanese equities team at Neuberger Berman, Okamura plays a key role in leading engagement process with management of holding companies including setting engagement objectives and creating a customized strategy to address the financially material ESG issues the team has identified. NB Japan Equity Engagement Strategy focuses on identifying the “hidden gems” in Japan’s small- and mid-cap market, based on our team’s fundamental research and proprietary insights gained from company engagement. Dialogue and partnership are at the heart of our approach. The team attended 560 company meetings during 2020, focusing on business strategy and financially material environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.  

Okamura was a vice president of stewardship at Goldman Sachs Asset Management (GSAM) in Tokyo overseeing ESG engagement campaigns to Japanese companies on behalf of public and corporate pension funds and conducting bottom-up ESG research for the fundamental equity team. Prior to GSAM, Okamura was a fund manager at Amundi Asset Management and an assistant investment manager at Aberdeen Asset Management where he helped to manage concentrated Japanese equities portfolios. Okamura stated his career covering Japanese and Asian companies for Reuters and Bloomberg as a reporter and producer.