RPT-Japan's MUFG asked to help subprime fund - paper
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TOKYO Dec 12 (Reuters) - Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (8306.T: Cotización), Japan's largest bank, has been asked to contribute as much as 100 billion yen ($904 million) to the subprime support fund being planned by the three largest U.S. banks, the Asahi newspaper said on Wednesday.
Bank of America (BAC.N: Cotización), Citigroup (C.N: Cotización) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM.N: Cotización) are heading an effort to raise billions of dollars for the new fund, which will buy assets from failing investment vehicles as a way to ease turmoil in the credit markets.
Mitsubishi UFJ, which has a presence in the United States through its unit UnionBanCal Corp, has been asked to contribute the money, the Asahi said, without naming its sources.
A spokesman for Mitsubishi UFJ declined to comment on the report.
A source told Reuters on Friday that BlackRock Inc (BLK.N: Cotización) had been appointed as lead manager of the fund, which had initially been expected to be as large as $75 billion.
CNBC reported on Tuesday that it may only total $30 billion.
The fund has faced scepticism from market players who have said that since it will buy only high-quality assets, it will not be able to help weaker structured investment vehicles, which are off-balance-sheet funds banks use to buy assets like U.S. mortgages.
With fewer subprime-related investments than their overseas rivals, Japanese lenders such as MUFG have so far avoided heavy subprime losses. However, they have still been forced to write down the value of some investments.
MUFG said last month losses on subprime-related investments cost it 4 billion yen in the six months to Sept 30. The bank's current exposure to the risky subprime market is 260 billion yen. (Reporting by David Dolan; Editing by Hugh Lawson)
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