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No. 353, February 1999

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Japanese Companies in the US


MISCELLANEOUS

MITSUBISHI HEAVY INDUSTRIES, LTD., the prime contractor for Japan's all-domestic H-II heavy-lift booster, has won a contract to supply second-stage liquid hydrogen fuel tanks for the Delta IV, the next-generation launch vehicle being developed by BOEING CO. for both the U.S. Air Force and commercial customers. The Delta IV family includes five rockets with payload capacities ranging from 9,200 pounds to 29,000 pounds. All variants use Boeing's Rocketdyne RS-68 liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen-burning, 650,000- pound-thrust common booster core engine. A Delta II or a current-generation Delta III second stage then will be mated to the CBC. The first U.S. Air Force launch of the Delta IV is scheduled for 2001. MHI already supplies second- stage liquid hydrogen fuel tanks for the Delta III as well as its first-stage fuel tanks.

Commercial production will start in March at IBIDEN CO., LTD.'s Portland, Oregon plant. IBIDEN GRAPHITE OF AMERICA CORP. will import graphite products from its Gifu prefecture parent and then finish them to customers' specifications. These products are used in semiconductor parts and as electrodes in electrodischarge machines. IGA is looking for sales of $17.7 million in the first year of full-scale operation.

The prospect of a fourth year of losses persuaded NIPPON PAINT CO., LTD. to sell SUPRATECH SYSTEMS INC., a manufacturer of flexographic printing plates. The Charlotte, North Carolina company opened for business in the spring of 1995. At the time, its plates represented an environmental breakthrough since they were water-developable; that eliminated the use of harmful chloride organic solvents.

The strength of U.S. stock prices proved irresistible to two Japanese companies that need to raise money for operations, including restructuring. Upscale retailer MITSUKOSHI, LTD., Japan's number-two department store operator, sold the 12 percent stake in TIFFANY & CO. that it had owned since 1989. Despite the sale, Mitsukoshi and Tiffany will continue their business relationship in Japan, which dates back to 1972. The jewelry retailer has more than three dozen boutiques in Mitsukoshi stores as well as several freestanding stores. For its part, ITOCHU CORP. sold its remaining block of stock in TIME WARNER INC. for a profit of roughly $520.4 million. Altogether, this transaction plus sales of Time Warner stock last March and again in September netted the trader an estimated gain of $796.5 million on its $500 million investment in the media conglomerate in 1992. TOSHIBA CORP., which also invested $500 million in Time Warner at that time, has sold all but a few hundred thousand shares of its stake.

Another Japanese organization is ready to help Japanese start- ups and entrepreneurs raise venture capital money in the United States or establish a presence here (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 11, and No. 350, November 1998, pp. 10-11). The nonprofit Smart Valley Japan has opened an office in San Jose, California to provide a broad range of services to companies just starting up or individuals with marketable business ideas. Smart Valley Japan hopes to sign up 50 companies and 170 individuals for its services in 1999. In 2001, it projects, revenues could total $1.1 million or so.

An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report. aaaaaa

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