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No. 366, March 2000

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Japanese Companies in the US


ELECTRIC MACHINERY

NIPPON CHEMI-CON CORP. is building a development center in suburban Chicago to bolster its standing as the largest maker and supplier of aluminum electrolytic capacitors in North America. The initial man-date for the $1.8 million facility, which should be operational in April with a staff of eight people, is to work on capacitors for use in hybrid and electric vehicles. Other, more medium-term objectives for the Chemi-Con Laboratory are to research large capacitors for such applications as trains as well as to develop small, lightweight capacitors. UNITED CHEMI-CON, INC., NCC's North American sales and engineering unit, is headquartered in Rosemont, Illinois. In addition to sales, service and field-engineering support personnel located around the country, United Chemi-Con has warehouses in Brea, California and Lansing, North Carolina. The latter is the site of its onshore aluminum electrolytic capacitor factory, which was acquired in the fall of 1992.

Ownership of another early Japanese factory in the United States is changing hands as a result of the corporate restructuring underway at home. PIONEER CORP. has decided to sell the DVD production assets of its PIONEER VIDEO MANUFACTURING, INC. subsidiary in Carson, California to DELUXE VIDEO SERVICES INC. With the sale of the plant's four DVD manufacturing lines and related equipment for what industry sources estimate was between $36.7 million and $45.9 million, Pioneer expects to improve economies of scale by consolidating most of its DVD production in Japan. The company acquired the renamed PVM in 1982. Its work force of some 160 people currently turns out about 100,000 DVDs a month. Deluxe Video, a subsidiary of RANK GROUP PLC, is a major supplier of VHS duplication, packaging and fulfillment services worldwide.

In a move designed to save both time and money, SONY CORP. reportedly will integrate the digital television research and development activities it now performs separately in Japan and at the Sony Technology Center at the company's huge production complex in San Diego, California. Among the areas apparently targeted for collaborative work, which will be handled via the Internet, are digital signal processor chips, decoders and software. The goal is to develop digital TV sets for release in Japan and the United States based on common specifications.

Computer, electronics and automotive companies around the world are quickly lining up to license SONY CORP.'s Memory Stick technology — a compact, stick-shaped recording media based on rewritable flash memory technology. Among the 46 companies interested in commercializing Memory Stick-compliant products are ADOBE SYSTEMS, INC., COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP., GENERAL MOTORS CORP. and TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INC. Memory Stick media now is available in storage capacities of 4 MB, 8 MB, 16 MB, 32 MB and 64 MB. A 256-MB product is slated for introduction in 2001.

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