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Finance

Japan likely to loosen restrictions on investment trusts

 TOKYO -- The Japanese government will consider steps to ease regulations on mutual funds, aiming to coax individuals into putting more of their savings in growth assets.

     A panel on revitalizing capital markets is expected to propose a host of changes to help create "an environment that provides investment products able to bring true profit to investors," in a report to the cabinet Thursday. The government will likely include the measures in its growth strategy due out by month's end.

     The proposal calls for relaxing restrictions on the buying and selling of stocks and bonds among investment trusts. Under current regulations, which are tighter than those in Europe and the U.S., funds are effectively banned from trading securities among one another, out of concern over conflicts of interest. Newly proposed rules would permit such transactions as long as investors' interests are not harmed.

     Allowing firms operating multiple investment funds to trade securities among them may lead to correcting high-cost structures, which in turn could benefit clients in the form of lower commissions. The relevant regulations could be revised and put into effect as early as this year.

     To promote competition in the industry, the government will work to make it easier for fund managers to go independent. It will consider raising the 20 billion yen ($193 million) cap on investment by firms in the so-called investment management industry for professionals to 40 billion yen or 50 billion yen. Other steps will make it easier for smaller firms to manage money from pension funds.

     The government will also consider taking steps to boost the participation of younger people in the NISA personal investment account scheme launched in January.

(Nikkei)

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