Charles Beazley, the soon-to-be chief executive of Nikko Asset Management, has a personal story of rejection. Henry Jenner was consecrated Anglican bishop of Dunedin, New Zealand, in 1866. The prospective congregation feared the new clergyman was a papist. Shunned by the locals, Jenner had no choice but to return to England. The man’s ancestor is Beazley.
“It is heartbreaking reading the letters he wrote on the way out to New Zealand,” says Beazley of his relative. “He was thought too high church by the locals before they had met him.”
Despite the oddity of an Englishman becoming the second foreigner in succession to run the Tokyo-based $150 billion asset manager, the 52-year-old Beazley does not fear the same fate suffered by his forebear will befall him at Nikko. He claims his management touch is light and sensitive.
“We don’t tell dumb baseball jokes or talk cricket,” he says. “There are 27 nationalities working at Nikko. I’m content to let the managers in different countries manage their own businesses.”
That means in Australia, Nikko’s unit, Tyndall Investments, is left to Craig Hobart’s direction. Likewise managers in charge of Nikko’s operations in Singapore and Hong Kong, where after taking over the DBS asset management business, now operate largely autonomously as Nikko Asset Management Asia. In China it has a 40 per cent stake in Rongtong Fund Managemen.
Beazley wants to continue the acquisition spree of his predecessor Timothy McCarthy, who will step down as CEO at the end of the month. During McCarthy’s Nikko tenure, the Japanese company has acquired stakes in companies from China to New Zealand in an effort to become the preeminent Asian asset manager.
Beazley is looking for acquisitions in South Korea, Indonesia and Taiwan.
“You’ve got to be local and be prepared to partner or joint venture,” he says.
Nikko, which pulled its initial public offering last year, still plans to sell shares when markets settle. That may not be for another couple of years, according to Beazley who joined the company in 2006.
“I’m perfectly happy to wait,” he says.
A graduate of the School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies at University College London, Beazley is a French and Italian speaker. He is not conversant in Japanese and uses interpreters.
He is quick to ask colleagues what people really wanted after a meeting, as bluntness is not typically expressed in Japan.
Beazley’s mother and grandfather have photographs of themselves attending a reception at Tokyo’s Imperial Palace, a rare honour for a foreigner.
“I don’t know if I ever well be invited there, but there are a lot of people in Japan wishing us well,” says Beazley.