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No. 356, May 1999

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American Companies in Japan


Competitive pressures are forcing the closure of the 100-room Century Hyatt Nagoya hotel. The hotel management subsidiary of ODAKYU ELECTRIC RAILWAY CO., LTD. said the hotel, located in front of the Nagoya train station, would close at the end of March 2000. The company will continue to run the Century Hyatt hotel in Tokyo under a franchise agreement with HYATT CORP., which operates four other Hyatt International Hotels in Japan.

Like fellow movie theater operator AMC ENTERTAINMENT INC. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 350, November 1998, p. 16), UNITED CINEMAS INTERNATIONAL (JAPAN) K.K. sees Japan as a largely untapped market for multiplexes. The equally owned venture between UNIVERSAL STUDIOS, INC. and PARAMOUNT PICTURES CORP. expects by 2002 to have 25 theaters in operation with more than 300 screens. It currently runs three multiplexes with a total of 27 screens in Otsu, Shiga prefecture, Kanazawa, Ishikawa prefecture and Sapporo. Three more multiscreen theaters will open in 1999. They will be located in Niigata, Kishiwada, Osaka prefecture and Inazawa, Aichi prefecture.

The 20-year cooperative relationship between big international engineering and construction company KELLOGG BROWN & ROOT and JGC CORP., one of the three major Japanese plant engineering firms, on liquefied natural gas plants is in the process of being converted into a formal alliance. The pending move comes on the heels of the Dallas firm's decision to help a struggling CHIYODA CORP. restructure (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 355, April 1999, p. 16). News of that tie-up unnerved JGC executives, prompting them to clarify and strengthen their own company's relationship with KBR. By coincidence, an international consortium made up of KBR, JGC and three other companies won a $1.2 billion contract to build a LNG plant in Nigeria just days after reports surfaced that KBR and JGC were reviewing their ties.

Three American investors are partnering with MITSUI FUDOSAN CO., LTD. to buy 13 office buildings from JAPAN LANDIC CORP., a nonbank affiliate of nationalized LONG-TERM CREDIT BANK OF JAPAN, LTD. The purchase price is likely to be around $300 million. Japan's largest real estate developer will put up 10 percent of this money. DONALDSON, LUFKIN & JENRETTE INC., Los Angeles-headquartered SECURED CAPITAL CORP. and WESTBROOK PARTNERS LLC of New York City will equally split the other 90 percent of the cost. The 13 properties, a number of which are located in central Tokyo, will be placed in a trust. The four investors then will purchase shares of the trust through a company set up specifically for that purpose.

Another U.S. company sees commercial real estate in Japan as a strong long-term investment now that prices are close to bottoming out. Manhattan real estate investor EMMES & CO. LLC could spend as much as $166.7 million this year on office buildings in Tokyo and in neighboring metropolitan areas. Its subsidiary, formed last October, already has purchased a building in Yokohama for $16.7 million. According to current planning, Emmes will hold the properties it buys for seven to 15 years before selling them.

An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.aaaaaa

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