MUFG Bank to invest in space business

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo

MUFG Bank Ltd. plans to invest in Space One Co., which is engaged in launching small rockets, it has been learned. An announcement will be made as early as this week.

The bank aims to expand its partnerships with companies that collect and analyze data obtained from satellites and strengthen its space-related business.

Space One was established in 2018 as a joint venture with firms including Canon Electronics Inc. and Shimizu Corp. It has Japan’s first private rocket launch site in Wakayama Prefecture, and is moving forward with plans to begin launch operations during fiscal 2022 and to launch 20 rockets per year by the mid-2020s.

MUFG Bank will underwrite a third-party allocation of new shares worth approximately ¥500 million to be conducted by Space One. MUFG Bank’s stake in Space One is expected to be less than 5%.

Starting with this investment, MUFG Bank intends to accelerate its business investments and alliances with space business-related companies. MUFG Bank is also considering using the data collected by satellites, such as on greenhouse gas emissions and forest carbon dioxide absorption, in its core business of providing investment and financing decisions and advice to companies.

Competition in the space business is intensifying around the world, especially in the U.S. and China. Japan has lagged behind in the development of small rockets that can be launched at a low cost and in the construction of launch sites.

According to a survey by the U.S. investment bank Morgan Stanley, the size of the global space-related business market is expected to grow from $350 billion (about ¥47 trillion) in 2020 to $1 trillion (about ¥135 trillion) in 2040.

In April of this year, MUFG Bank established a new department to invest in companies with promising technologies and know-how and to foster the industry. It remains to be seen whether MUFG Bank will be able to lead the industrialization of the space field, taking advantage of its strength as a megabank that has many large corporations as clients.