On the hunt for foreign acquisitions since the 2008 financial crisis struck, Orix Corp. is finally taking on the world. In February the Japanese financial services conglomerate made the largest takeover in its history, agreeing to buy 90 percent of Dutch-based asset manager Robeco Group from the Netherlands’ Rabobank for €1.94 billion ($2.6 billion).

The biggest-ever Japanese purchase of a foreign asset manager, the pending deal gives Tokyo- and Osaka-based Orix access to the pension and asset management markets in Northern Europe, a relatively safe part of the euro zone. Unlisted Robeco came at a bargain, well below its €3 billion price tag when Rabobank put it up for sale a year earlier, before the European Union’s debt crisis took hold. “Maybe the euro zone will disappear, but....