Keigo Kuroda, MBA ’00:
Adapting to Succeed
Keigo Kuroda can tell you firsthand that prudence pays off. A director with the Blackstone Real Estate Group’s Tokyo office since 2007, Kuroda and his colleagues not only survived the downturn in the global real estate market over the past few years, but have come out ahead of the game, by holding onto only the best vintage assets, and being cautious about purchasing new assets.
After an especially rocky 2009, many new deals have emerged in the U.S. in the past year, says Kuroda. Less so in Japan. “Even if there is a deal, most of them are sold through an auction process, and the pricing can be challenging as there are so many low-cost players here.” This past July, Kuroda and two other members of the Tokyo team did make an exclusive deal he is proud of — one of the largest structured real-estate debt transactions in the Japanese market, purchased from an investment bank “at a very attractive basis.” But more and more, Kuroda says, his office has been working closely with the Hong Kong office, which mainly covers Greater China on cross-border deals in China, Japan, and other parts of Asia. “Japan is suffering from a decreasing population, aging society, and 20-year deflation,” says Kuroda. “There are a lot of good reasons why smart investors are putting money in the Chinese market instead.”
Though business in his Tokyo office is conducted in either Japanese or English, Kuroda has recently started to learn Chinese as a way of showing his positive attitude towards the country and its culture. Lessons are every Saturday morning at a school near his downtown office. Recently, he tested his vocabulary while out for dinner and drinks with some Chinese clients. “I tried phrases like ‘Nice to meet you,’ and ‘This dish is very delicious’ — very simple things,” says Kuroda. “They seemed glad that I’m trying.”
While Kuroda hopes to improve his grasp of the language enough that he can eventually speak Chinese in a business setting, he’s finding himself strapped for time. His three-person office may soon be integrating another large real estate platform in Asia, and creating a larger office. Also, a year ago, Kuroda’s first child was born — a daughter named Nanako. She isn’t speaking quite yet, but when’s she’s ready, Kuroda says he’s going to help her learn all three of the languages he speaks. “For the next generation,” he says. “English alone won’t be enough.”