U.S. investment companies do not appear ready to pull up stakes abroad despite the recent seesawing of the global equity markets.
It's business as usual, and in some cases the market's woes may even be prompting companies to invest more money and beef up staff overseas.
Massachusetts Financial Services, a $69 billion-asset fund company, plans to go ahead with the launch of its new office in Tokyo on Oct. 1, said Arnold D. Scott, senior vice president of the Boston fund company's asset management arm.
Though the down market has trampled a number of national economies, Japan's is frailer than most. But Mr. Scott said he believes that only makes the Japanese more likely to be socking their money away in U.S. investment vehicles.
"If anything, we have stepped up our commitment to Japan," he said. MFS plans to put six wholesalers in Tokyo, instead of the two originally slated.
The stock market rout "has been deep and it has been sudden," said Steven Spiegel, chief of corporate and international development at Putnam Investments in Boston. "We feel it as much as anyone else." But Putnam- which has offices in London, Milan, Buenos Aires, and Japan-has no plans to change direction, he said.
Putnam also plans on expanding in Japan next year, when deregulation will allow foreign companies to sell mutual funds directly to the public, Mr. Spiegel said. The $250 billion fund company has had a presence there since the early 1980s and currently sells through several Japanese brokers.
MFS, which is a fund wholesaler, is in negotiations with several Japanese banks to sell its U.S.-focused funds, said Mr. Scott, who added that he is optimistic about the outcome of the discussions. The fund company is also selling its portfolios through Merrill Lynch & Co., which set up shop in Japan in July after hiring brokers from Yamaichi Securities, a failed brokerage.
But Merrill Lynch has not emerged unscathed from the market downturn. Last week the broker-dealer said that start-up costs for the Japanese operation probably will total around $190 million, $65 million higher than was expected.
The announcement came as Merrill Lynch also unveiled a $135 million loss sustained during July and August through its exposure to emerging markets.
Commenting on Japan, a company spokesman attributed some of the hefty expense to the costliness of training Japanese workers. But he also conceded that "revenues have not come quite as quickly as we projected."
However, he said, "We still regard this as an outstanding long-term business opportunity."
Other firms are also still bullish on Japan. According to a published report last week, Citibank is reportedly looking at expanding its private banking presence there.
Mellon Bank Corp., which has brokered several international asset management alliances in Asia and Latin America has also said that it has no plans to change tack in the current market.
"We're long-term players," Christopher "Kip" M. Condron, a bank vice chairman and head of the $101 billion-asset Dreyfus Corp. fund group, said in a recent interview.
Later this month, Dreyfus plans to launch its second fund in alliance with Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, he said. The global bond fund will follow a balanced portfolio launched this year, when Dreyfus formed an asset management alliance with the Japanese bank.
"Our international focus gives us better balance" because of the diversification opportunities, Mr. Condron said.