MUFG EMEA recently held a virtual seminar which brought together Japanese corporates from across EMEA to discuss the current challenges being faced in light of COVID-19 and the potential “new normal".

As the leading bank to Japanese corporates globally, MUFG's Japanese Corporate and Investment Banking team brought together companies from a broad range of sectors to look at how they have reacted to material economic and operational disruption, what is still needed to be done and the impact on Japan's economy more broadly.

Kazu Nakajima, Head of Japanese Corporate Banking London, MUFG Bank, provided the opening keynote, sharing perspectives on the economic environment and the impact the pandemic has had on Japanese corporate culture. This also included an overview of MUFG's activities to support corporates during these challenging times.

Following this, Jack Tinley, Japanese Corporate Banking Director, led discussions on data collected from Japanese corporates that outlined the impacts and actions taken to manage this uncertainty. This was an opportunity to see first-hand how this subsector of corporates have been affected and to consider potential focus areas in the future, with the analysis covering both financial and operational aspects, including treasury and Post Merger Integration (PMI).

The final speaker was Matt Wyborn, Partner at PWC's Cross Border M&A practice in Tokyo. Matt presented key themes for Japanese Corporates arising from COVID-19 as they look to move to a new normal business environment, including moves toward digitalisation and flexible working. He also discussed the impacts on Japanese corporates' plans for overseas growth.

Some of the key takeaways from the session include:

  • 2020 has seen extreme market volatility both as a result of COVID-19 and also political risk in several key markets. Whilst significant action has been taken by most corporates in the short term to manage liquidity and operational challenges, many have yet to make longer term strategic decisions in areas such as risk management
  • Digitization of operations is a high priority, particularly in B2C (“business-to-consumer") sectors where customers have switched to online channels, leading to rapid growth of e-commerce
  • Risk management will become increasingly important, requiring corporates to take a global approach to business continuity planning. The previous trend towards greater integration of business activities across international hubs is expected to continue
  • The shift toward flexible working is expected to be permanent as work style reforms accelerate, with more colleagues working from outside the office

In these uncertain times, this seminar provided an opportunity to consider how Japanese multinationals are adapting both in their home market and in EMEA. As the economic situation and local operational restrictions continue to evolve, MUFG's Japanese Corporate and Investment Banking team is committed to taking a proactive approach to supporting its clients and providing thought leadership in this area.

MUFG would like to extend its thanks to all the speakers and attendees who took the time to participate in this event.