ASIA NEWS: Goodbye, with respect


PERE: It’s January, weeks after you left Aetos to spend more time at home in the US. What are you doing back in Japan?
Daniel Klebes: Actually, the first working day of the year is a very interesting time in Japan. It is tradition for businessmen to see their main banks and clients. You have a little drink of sake with each one to say thanks for the opportunity to have worked with you last year and here’s to working with you again this year. It’s quite unique to Japan. That’s why I’m out here this week – to make sure I depart as elegantly as possible.

PERE: You’ve had six years with Aetos Capital, in which time you’ve helped lead the business into some big things. Why leave now?
DK: I really loved working at Aetos, but it was a personal decision to leave. I’d been commuting to Tokyo since 2006, but my family lives in Connecticut and I’m keen to cut down on the amount of travel I do. In the last four years, I was in Japan a minimum of 150 days per year.

PERE: And the next step?
DK: I’ve been spending the last six months making sure all the financings are in place with our portfolio companies, so I haven’t really decided what’s next. But given how deeply I’ve been involved in the Aetos business here and my loyalty to Aetos clients in Japan, it’s probably best for me to take some time between working at Aetos and doing something new in the Asia market.

PERE: You already have started a company called GTO Capital Management. What’s that about?
DK: It’s just something for me to work on while I consider things. My focus for the next months will be on what’s next, but I may take on some advisory assignments using this company. I don’t have a non-compete agreement with Aetos in place, but I am on its investment committee and, as long as I am, I have agreed not to compete with them. If I wanted to [compete], I’d have to step down from that.

PERE: What would you say your biggest achievements at Aetos were?
DK: For me, there were a lot. Certainly one was building the team. When I joined, there was about 50 staff. Now there’s about 70, but between 55 and 60 were hired on my watch. We also did some great investments like Matsushita Investment and Development (the $1.6 billion purchase of the real estate affiliate of Matsushita Electric Industrial).

PERE: Could you work in the US?
DK: Sure. To be at a global institution based in New York with a broad-ish national mandate – that would be perfect. As to who and what types of assets and company, I look forward to thinking about that.