Japan GPIF seeks to replace official with investment expert -sources

TOKYO, July 15 Tue Jul 15, 2014 5:52am EDT

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TOKYO, July 15 (Reuters) - Japan's public pension fund is seeking to replace a long-serving key official with an investment expert, people familiar with the matter said, a further sign that the government wants to improve returns from the world's biggest pension fund.

Kimikazu Nomi's term on the $1.24 trillion Government Pension Investment Fund Investment Committee expired on July 10 and is not being extended, the government sources told Reuters. The government, which oversees GPIF, is looking to replace Nomi with someone who has deep private-sector experience in investing, they said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government has been pressing GPIF to shift more of its enormous portfolio into stocks and other risk assets and away from the paltry yields of Japanese government bonds, to improve returns for the nation's burgeoning number of retirees.

A GPIF official said he could not comment on personnel matters before they are announced.

The government in April overhauled the fund, appointing new committee members and shrinking its numbers to eight from 10, in a push towards Abe's goal of a more aggressive investment strategy.

Global financial markets keenly watch GPIF's moves because the fund - bigger than Mexico's economy - is a huge investor and a bellwether for other Japanese institutional investors.

Nomi, who was appointed to the committee in 2008, is CEO of the state-backed Innovation Network Corporation of Japan, which invests in Japanese companies, essentially acting as public-sector venture capitalists. (Reporting by Ritsuko Ando; Writing by William Mallard; Editing by Edmund Klamann)

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