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Nippon Life Insurance looks into overseas project financing amid low rates

Nippon Life Insurance Co. will venture into overseas project finance investments in the fiscal year starting April as it accelerates its shift into nontraditional investment routes, Reuters reported Jan. 24.

President Yoshinobu Tsutsui said the insurer has already been approached for some project finance deals. He did not, however, disclose how much the company is willing to invest in overseas project finance.

Project finance deals involve loans to long-term infrastructure and industrial projects, such as power generation, wherein the lender gets paid from cash generated by the project's operation. Such investments are usually considered riskier but provide higher yields.

Nippon Life Insurance, along with other insurers in Japan, has been looking for yields elsewhere as Japan's negative interest rate policy squeezes returns from domestic bonds.

The insurer is also looking at possible acquisitions of asset management companies and life insurance companies. In October 2016, it completed the acquisition of an 80% stake in National Australia Bank Ltd.'s life insurance unit.