Pittsburgh's METALSITE, L.P., the company that pioneered buying and selling metals over the Internet, will help bring the new world of electronic commerce to the steel business in Japan. Its partners will be ITOCHU CORP., MARUBENI CORP. and SUMITOMO CORP. Big traders like these handle all of the steel shipped in Japan, even to the largest users like vehicle manufacturers. Currently, they are linked to steel mills and customers through EDI (electronic data interchange) systems that major steelmakers have operated for years. The proposed Internet trading system will go beyond this system. Most of the details of the MetalSite initiative, including ownership shares and the addition of other partners, still must be worked out. However, tentative plans call for forming a joint venture in the spring and launching the Web site, which will use software developed by MetalSite and customized for Japanese business practices, sometime in the third quarter. Initially, it now is thought, trading will be limited to the three trading companies, their affiliates and their customers.
KITAMURA VALVE MANUFACTURING CO., LTD. now is part of multinational conglomerate TYCO INTERNATIONAL LTD. Japan's dominant maker of ball valves for so-called severe-service applications in the chemicals and petrochemicals industries and an international marketer under the KTM brand name, the Saitama prefecture supplier was acquired for an undisclosed price by the European operation of Houston, Texas-based KEYSTONE VALVE USA, INC., a key member of Tyco Flow Control, itself one of Exeter, New Hampshire-headquartered Tyco International's four business segments. Industry sources speculate that in time, Tyco Flow Control could consolidate its worldwide valve business in Japan to take advantage of the former Kitamura Valve's manufacturing prowess, broad line of ball valves as well as pneumatic actuators and reputation for quality products.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.aaaaaa