Ex-Unison partner dies amid insider trading inquiry

One of Japan's largest private equity firms fired the partner upon learning of an investigation by authorities. The partner, identified as Kenichi Kiso by an LP, passed away the following day.

A partner at Tokyo-based Unison Capital has died, the day after being fired from the firm in relation to an insider trading investigation by the Japanese Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission (SESC).
The firm told sister news site PEI Asia that it dismissed the partner in question on 27 October; the same day the SESC conducted its investigation at the firm's office.

Unison declined to identity the partner, nor explain the cause of death. Details as to the insider trading allegations were also not disclosed. SESC did not reply to requests for comment at press time.

At the start of October, Unison's website listed six partners: John Ehara, Tatsuya Hayashi and Tatsuo Kawasaki, its three co-founders, and Osamu Yamamoto, Kenichi Kiso and Kiyoto Matsuda. At press time, Kenichi Kiso was no longer listed on the site.

An LP confirmed Kenichi Kiso as the partner investigated for alleged misconduct. The firm's key-man clause is triggered only by the the departure of John Ehara, or the simultaneous departure of two of the firm’s other partners, the LP said.

Kiso joined Unison Capital in 2002, where he focused on investments in the consumer goods, general industry and retail sectors. He previously worked at Goldman Sachs, consulting firm McKinsey and Morgan Stanley.

Unison has set up an external third-party investigation committee of three attorneys to investigate the alleged insider trading charge and “provide advice on how to further strengthen internal controls”, the firm said in a statement.

“Unison Capital takes this matter very seriously and has been cooperating very closely with the investigating authorities,” the statement noted .

In August, Unison Capital closed its third private equity fund on ¥140 billion ($1.5 billion; €1 billion). While the fund was ¥60 billion short of its original target, it is still one of the largest Asian private equity funds closed this year.