July 31, 2014 2:00 pm JST

Japan corporate pension assets highest since 2007 on stock rise

TOKYO -- Corporate pension assets held by major Japanese companies are at their highest since March 2007, boosted by rising stock prices.

     As of the end of March, such assets totaled 48 trillion yen ($465 billion), up 4 trillion yen on the year and marking the third straight year of increase, according to data compiled by The Nikkei.

     The findings are based on data from 300 major companies whose fiscal year ends in March and which disclosed their pension asset allocations in their financial statements. Starting in 2014, businesses that close their books in March are required to release such information about their pension assets.

     Companies that invested more of their pension assets in stocks saw an increase in their asset value thanks to the stock market uptrend in recent years.

     A total of 47 companies, or about one in six, manage more than half their pension assets through stocks. Toyota Motor, which holds assets worth nearly 2 trillion yen, allocates 57% to equities. The value of its pension assets rose 16%.

     Major seafood and frozen food company Nippon Suisan, which allocates 54% of its pension assets to stocks, saw a 20% jump in the value of its pension assets.

     The Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) plans to raise the weighting of stocks in its portfolio reshuffle, the contents of which are slated to be released this autumn.

     Private corporate pension funds "are also ramping up investment in stocks of companies with higher capital efficiency," said Akira Kunikyo, global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management.