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No. 364, January 2000

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Japanese Companies in the US


In its first acquisition ever, big process control equipment maker YAMATAKE CORP. purchased the Cornerstone valve business from HUNT VALVE CO., INC. of Salem, Ohio for about $4.9 million. Ten-year-old Cornerstone will operate as a division of Yamatake's Houston-headquartered YCV CORP. subsidiary. It manufactures ball valves and rotary control valves for such applications as emergency shutoffs. Cornerstone's customers include major oil and gas producers, oil refiners, petrochemical manufacturers and electric utilities in the United States and Japan. Starting in April 2000, Yamatake will use Cornerstone's Houston plant to make its own control valves. Between the two product lines, the YCV Cornerstone operation expects sales of $22 million in FY 2001.

A contract for engine bearings from GENERAL MOTORS CORP. could add $3 million in first-year revenues to GLACIER DAIDO AMERICA, INC.'s business and considerably more in time. This Bellefontaine, Ohio company, formed in 1996, is a joint venture between DAIDO METAL CO., LTD. (30 percent) and, via an acquisition, bearing and automotive parts maker FEDERAL-MOGUL CORP. Glacier Daido's sales, estimated at $42 million in FY 1999, now are generated from shipments of engine bearings to HONDA MOTOR CO., LTD.'s engine plant in Anna, Ohio and TO-YOTA MOTOR CORP.'s Georgetown, Kentucky engine plant. Glacier Daido already has supplied prototype bearings to GM.

As part of its plan to boost overseas forklift sales by a fourth to $194.2 million in FY 2002, TCM CORP. (formerly Toyo Umpanki Co., Ltd.) will expand capacity at its 11-year-old West Columbia, South Carolina plant. Over three years starting in April 2000, TCM MANUFACTURING, USA, INC. gradually will raise annual lift truck capacity by about 40 percent to 5,000 units. The bulk of the extra output will be shipped to Latin America. Like its bigger Japanese competitors, TCM has seen forklift sales at home plunge because of lower capital spending.

From spring 2000, TOPY INDUSTRIES, LTD. will assemble and market undercarriage components for track-mounted construction equipment in Smyrna, Tennessee. The output of TOPY INTERNATIONAL UCA, INC., which will start off with six employees, will replace imported crawler assemblies. Growing sales of hydraulic shovels in the United States apparently persuaded Topy Industries to make the switch. Production is forecast at about 200 units monthly in FY 2001 for estimated annual revenues of $11.1 million. Topy International UCA initially expects to do business with Japanese-affiliated U.S. construction equipment manufactur-ers, but in time, it hopes to win contracts from American-based makers of track-mounted earthmoving equipment. Topy Industries has run a big steel and aluminum automotive wheel factory in Frankfort, Kentucky since 1986.

For the second time in about 16 months, SAKAI HEAVY INDUSTRIES, LTD., one of the world's three biggest makers of road-paving equipment, announced its intention to boost sales in North America, where the company has only about 5 percent of the market. At the heart of the first thrust was the introduction of equipment designed specifically for the United States and Canada. Now, Sakai's New Castle, Delaware subsidiary is focusing on building up its distribution channels. Over the next three years, it is targeting a 50 percent gain in dealers to 70 companies with 225 outlets. If all goes according to plan, Sakai's North American revenues will expand from an estimated $19.4 million in FY 1999 to $38.8 million in FY 2003.

FUJI SEIKI CO., LTD., a Nara prefecture manufacturer of plastic injection molds for such varied products as CD jewel boxes and automotive parts, is seriously weighing a move into the North American market. The company's products already are in use here because it supplies molds to a non-Japanese Asian firm that makes CD cases in the United States, but Fuji Seiki now has no direct marketing channel. Should it decide to take the plunge, Fuji Seiki would seek to develop markets for its precision molds among makers of syringes and other disposable medical products and producers of food containers, such as yogurt and pudding cups.

MATSUSHITA SEIKO CO., LTD. has set its sights on winning 10 percent of the American market for room air purifiers within three years of the start of marketing in the spring of 2000. Its initial line, which will be sold under the Panasonic brand by PANASONIC CONSUMER ELECTRONICS CO. of Secaucus, New Jersey, will consist of four models. Matsushita Seiko's optimism about its sales prospects is based on the fact that its air purifiers have features not found on the competition's. For instance, the slim high-end model not only has the standard high-efficiency HEPA and deodorizing filters but also a filter check function and a micro dust sensor that monitors air quality. Matsushita Seiko test-marketed its air purifiers for nearly a year before deciding to begin U.S. sales.

An exchange rate of ¥103=$1.00 was used in this report. aaa

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