A banker previously from Merrill Lynch who led ABS sales for Japanese gaming parlors plans to set up a 100 billion yen ($1.1 billion) fund to invest in Asian distressed assets for Zais Group, according to a Bloomberg report.

Zais last month hired Jun Mihara as chief investment officer to help it raise 50 billion yen to 100 billion yen to purchase real estate, CMBS  and other distressed assets in Asia, according to Katsuhito Manabe, president of Zais’s Tokyo unit. Mihara left Merrill in July, Bloomberg said.

Mihara joined Merrill in 2001 after spending more than decade at Industrial Bank of Japan. He became a member of Merrill’s executive management committee in Japan in 2007 and helped the firm arrange a 20 billion yen loan for Fukuoka-based Yuko Luckygroup, an operator of pachinko pinball parlors, Bloomberg reported.

Mihara said in an interview that Zais intends to purchase discounted triple-A debt backed by real estate from Japanese banks as the lenders try to avoid refinancing risk caused by falling values of properties tied to the bonds, according to Bloomberg,.

Formed in 1997, the firm manages $9 billion of assets while employing around 130 people in the U.S., Europe and Asia, covering 10 in Japan.

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