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No. 365, February 2000

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Japanese Companies in the US


For the last 11 years, ISHIKAWAJIMA-HARIMA HEAVY INDUSTRIES CO., LTD. and Australia's BROKEN HILL PROPRIETARY CORP. have been developing the technology for a steelmaking process known as strip casting — or direct casting of molten steel into final shapes and thicknesses without further hot or cold rolling. Now, they have agreed with NUCOR CORP., the world's top minimill operator, to form a company in Charlotte, North Carolina to license worldwide the patents and the technology required for strip casting and to sell the equipment to implement the process. IHI and BHP will contribute their intellectual property rights to the proposed venture, while Nucor, which will build a strip-casting facility at one of its mills to refine the technology, will put up cash. The Charlotte-headquartered steelmaker will have exclusive rights to the technology in the United States and Brazil; BHP will control it in Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia. Elsewhere, the partners jointly will market the cost-reducing process. Nucor and BHP each will receive 47.5 percent of any profits, with IHI getting 5 percent.

ISHIKAWAJIMA PRECISION CASTING CO., LTD. has a GENERAL ELECTRIC CO. contract to supply castings for manufacturing blades for gas turbine generators. The blades, which measure 19.5 inches and longer, are destined for GE gas turbines in the 10,000- kilowatt-hour class and above. The wholly owned ISHIKAWAJIMA-HARIMA HEAVY INDUSTRIES CO., LTD. subsidiary expects the GE deal to produce annual revenues of $4.8 million and, perhaps more importantly, to help it develop castings for gas turbine blades into a business rivaling that of its existing castings for aircraft engine blades. Samples of the new castings are expected to be shipped shortly to GE.

With demand for copper-aluminum-copper growing among manufacturers of printed circuit boards, GOULD ELECTRONICS INC. acquired for an undisclosed price JOHNSON & JOHNSTON ASSOCI-ATES, INC. In 1993, that Hampstead, New Hampshire firm gave Gould, a JAPAN ENERGY CORP. company, exclusive rights to manufacture and market outside of North America CAC laminate for PCB applications. However, JJA retained product rights to the North American PCB market. With the acquisition of JJA, an 130- employee business that has production facilities at headquarters, Gould now is positioned to capitalize fully on the rising demand for CAC laminate. The high-end product is used mainly on glass-reinforced PCBs going into computers, communications equipment and industrial controls for taxing applications. In addition to CAC laminates, the multinational Gould, which is headquartered in Eastlake, Ohio, makes copper foil and adhesiveless flexible laminates for the PCB industry (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 362, November 1999, p. 8).

Under an extension to their December 1996 cross-supply agreement, SUMITOMO ELECTRIC INDUSTRIES, LTD. is shipping on an OEM basis to VALENITE, INC. SUMIDA DA polycrystalline diamond and SUMIBORON cubic boron nitride materials for use in cutting tools. Polycrystalline cutting tools are used for machining materials that are either too hard or too abrasive for conventional cutting tools, such as tungsten carbide, cermets (metal-ceramic combinations) or ceramics. SEI believes that the deal will add revenues of $95,200 a month to its business. Until now, big cutting tool supplier Valenite, which is based in Madison Heights, Michigan, has been marketing SEI's cermet inserts and ultrahard drills. The Big Three automotive makers are the primary customers for these products, which produce monthly sales of $190,500 to $285,700.

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