Osamu Kaneko founded Tokyo-based KK daVinci Advisors in 1998, a move that helped spur opportunistic and value-added real estate investment strategies in Japan. By buying run-down properties from cash-strapped landlords, Kaneko was able to earn in excess of 40 percent returns on his early deals, according to industry lore.
Kaneko, who reportedly founded two US-based real estate companies before setting up shop in Japan, was not only among the first to raise an opportunity fund in the country, he was reportedly also among the first to garner investments from foreign capital.
“I can compete with foreigners doing similar business, such as Secured Capital, Lehman Brothers, or Colony Capital, because I have more knowledge about Japanese real estate,” Kaneko told Reuters in a 1998 interview. “But competing with Japanese real estate firms would be tough.”
Nevertheless, by all accounts, daVinci has excelled and cemented its place as one of Japan's market leaders. While the projected IRR on daVinci's investments have reportedly ratcheted back to a more modest 25 percent, the $2.8 billion opportunity fund daVinci is currently raising would be the largest domestic fund ever.
“The bigger the fund, the more flexibly we can buy larger properties,” Kaneko told Reuters last year.
Such flexibility is allowing Kaneko to strike noteworthy deals, including daVinci's recent acquisition of the PCCW building for ¥200 billion ($1.7 billion; €1.3 billion), a transaction that one Asia-focused fund manager called “very impressive.”