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No. 365, February 2000

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Japanese Companies in the US


ENERGY RESOURCES

A significant part of the world nuclear fuel market was reconfigured January 1, 2000 in response to the changing dynamics of the business. On that date, GENERAL ELECTRIC CO., HITACHI, LTD. and TOSHIBA CORP. — collaborators since 1967 — integrated their nuclear fuel design, development, manufacturing and marketing operations into GLOBAL NUCLEAR FUEL (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 356, May 1999, p. 5). GE owns 51 percent of this San Jose, California company; Hitachi and Toshiba each have a 24.5 percent stake. Two units are under GNF's umbrella. In the United States, GLOBAL NUCLEAR FUEL - AMERICAS, LLC took over GE's light-water reactor fuel operations as well as its Wilmington, North Carolina manufacturing plant. This 900- employee firm also incorporates JOINT CONVERSION CO., a venture formed by the three partners in the early 1990s to reconvert fuel to produce uranium for power generation. The Japanese part of GNF is the relaunched JAPAN NUCLEAR FUEL CO., LTD., a Yokosuka, Kanagawa prefecture-based fuel manufacturing venture launched in 1967, which now also includes the previously separate light-water reactor fuel design, development and marketing activities of GE, Hitachi and Toshiba. This company has approximately 500 employees. GNF starts off with worldwide sales of roughly $476.2 million a year.

Japan's scheduled March 2000 deregulation of retail electricity sales to big users has caught the attention not only of such major American players in this field as ENRON CORP. but of Japanese outsiders as well. One is ORIX CORP. Through its New York City subsidiary, the country's top leasing company is investing in ENCOM CORP., which Enron established in August 1999 specifically to participate in liberalized energy markets in Japan. Orix will invest a total of $30 million in EnCom but initially will take a 20 percent or so stake in the firm. Once EnCom sets up operations in Japan, Orix will help it get its business off the ground by selling electricity to its corporate customers and by providing financing for electricity-generating facilities and equipment that EnCom decides to purchase.

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