November 21, 2015 / 5:30 AM / 3 years ago

REFILE-U.S. asset manager Fortress eyes higher exposure to Japan hotels

(Corrects spelling to Pulley)

By Junko Fujita

TOKYO, Nov 20 (Reuters) - U.S. alternate asset manager Fortress Investment Group, which has pumped in about $180 million from a new fund into Japan hotel assets, is considering further investments in the sector due to its long-term growth potential, despite a run-up in prices.

Fortress has completed fund-raising for a $1.1 billion Japan-dedicated fund in October. Of this, roughly about $180 million has been invested in hotels, said Thomas Pulley, chief investment officer at Fortress Investment Group (Japan) GK.

Fortress sees more opportunities in hotel investments in the future, given there is a push by the government to boost tourism, Pulley told a media briefing.

Helped by a weak yen and easier visa rules, Japan has attracted a record 16 million foreign visitors so far this year, already beating the previous full-year record of 13.4 million visitors set last year, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization.

Growing demand for hotel rooms has pushed hotel prices higher, intensifying competition. However, Pulley said Fortress still sees opportunities in Japan’s hotel sectors.

“We still think there is a large stock of hotels in the market place that are in need of both renovation and capital improvements as well as professional management,” Pulley said.

Fortress is one of the most successful property investors in Japan, snapping up troubled hotels in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis when most investors shunned the sector.

Hotels it owns include Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel near the Tokyo Disney Resort as well as Rihga Royal Hotel in Kyoto. Fortress also owns limited service hotels nationwide as well as hotel management companies. (Reporting by Junko Fujita; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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