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No. 351, December 1998

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Japanese Companies in the US


Ten months after it put its money-losing Secaucus, New Jersey distribution subsidiary up for sale, TSUMURA & CO. has found a buyer (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 342, March 1998, p. 9). For a reported $20 million, BALAE BRANDS, INC. will acquire the assets of TSUMURA INTERNATIONAL INC., which markets in North America bath, home fragrance and licensed children's toiletry products. TII's brands include Vitabath, Vitabath Naturals and VitaSpa bath products, which are sold through department stores, and Claire Burke home fragrances. Its children's toiletries are sold under such names as Barbie, Barney and Rugrats through mass merchandisers. Phoenix, Arizona-based Belae Brands, a subsidiary of RIANCO LLC, also is in the personal-care products business.

"The ride simulation system for the 21st century." That is how HITACHI, LTD. and ENTERTAINMENT DESIGN WORKSHOP, LLC are describing their jointly developed interactive, six-passenger, all-electronic simulation system. The yet-to-be- named simulator is the initial result of an exclusive arrangement that Hitachi and Sheffield, Massachusetts-based EDW forged in November 1997 to collaborate on interactive contents to create special venue ride simulation systems for the themed entertainment industry worldwide. The system is set to debut in mid-1999. It will be marketed internationally by an IMAX CORP. subsidiary and Hitachi. They are projecting sales of 300 units over three years.

By yearend, TOTO LTD. expects to set up a subsidiary, HYDROTECT INC., in the San Francisco Bay area to market an antidimming film that it developed for vehicles' windows and side mirrors using a light catalytic technology. A variant of this technology prevents ceramic tiles from mildewing. In late summer, Toto, Japan's top manufacturer of toilets, basins and bathtubs, announced that it would start licensing its know-how to tile manufacturers as well as selling treated tile in the United States (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 348, September 1998, p. 9).

JAPAN CONSULTING INTERNATIONAL, INC., which recently opened an "incubation facility" in Dallas for Japanese venture businesses (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 11), is working with HOOK PARTNERS, also located in Dallas, to raise between $20 million and $30 million in venture capital from Japanese and American sources for investment in early-stage communications companies. The Hook Communications Partners venture capital fund, which will close at the end of March 1999, will invest in communications hardware and software companies as well as in Internet start-ups and businesses developing chips for communications applications primarily in Silicon Valley and in the area around Richardson, Texas dubbed Telecom Corridor.

In an efficiency-enhancing move, NIPPON EXPRESS CO., LTD. and FEDERAL EXPRESS CORP. have agreed to collaborate on international services. For starters, Japan's largest package delivery company will piggyback on FedEx's much larger worldwide network and the faster service it can deliver. The American giant serves 120,000 locations in 200 countries around the world, while the Nippon Express network links 211 cities in 79 countries. At the same time, FedEx will use Nippon Express for pickups and deliveries in Japan outside the metropolitan areas where it has offices. The tie-up also will include joint use of collection points and other facilities in various countries as well as access to each other's information systems to track deliveries.

An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.

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