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No. 359, August 1999

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American Companies in Japan


PRECISION AND MEDICAL EQUIPMENT

In a decision apparently made only after considerable internal debate, HEWLETT- PACKARD CO. will buy out YOKOGAWA ELECTRIC CORP.'s 25 percent stake in HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. for a reported $500 million and make HP Japan a wholly owned subsidiary. The move is keyed to the November division of HP and its subsidiary into two companies, one handling enterprise computing systems, PCs, printing and imaging products, software and services under the HP name and the other, christened AGILENT TECHNOLOGIES INC., taking responsibility for HP's test and measurement, semiconductor and medical instrumentation businesses. Originally, YEC was to retain a 25 percent interest in both companies (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 355, April 1999, p. 13). HP Japan was formed in 1963 to manufacture and market Hewlett-Packard's measuring instruments. Its business diversified over time along with its American parent's. In 1983, HP, which initially owned 49 percent of the joint venture, became the majority owner. In the year through October 1998, HP Japan had sales of roughly $2.5 billion.

In the meantime, business goes on as usual. HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. released three transmission/reflection vector network analyzers covering the 50-MHz to 40-GHz range. The HP 8722E family allows characterization of radio-frequency and microwave components at what the company considers an affordable price. The HP 8722ET, for instance, costs $67,400. It includes an integrated synthesized source, a built-in T/R test set for a full range of magnitude and phase measurements in the forward direction and a tuned receiver.

SONY TEKTRONIX CORP. is working to reduce its product dependence on TEKTRONIX, INC. and SONY CORP. It hopes that test and measurement equipment developed in-house will generate sales of $83.3 million in 2001, double the current level, and account for approximately 30 percent of total revenues, which amounted to $210 million in the year through March 1999. Since the start of the year, the joint venture reportedly has introduced at least one new product a month that is the result of its own R&D efforts. These include a pair of low-cost MPEG-2 signal generators for circuit design evaluation and conformance testing of compressed digital video products. The MTG100, designed for production line use, lists for $12,300. The MTG300, which allows designers to customize a signal, goes for $24,600. However, another test product that Sony Tektronix recently put on the market came from its Wilsonville, Oregon parent. The HDVG1 is a high-definition test signal generator module designed for use with Tektronix's TG2000 video signal generation platform. It outputs all the major HDTV serial digital video signals as well as the digital and analog signals used in standard-definition TVs. By itself, the module costs $7,500, but a package including the TG2000 is $18,800.

The Model 1164 Reliability Test System from St. Paul, Minnesota-based AETRIUM INC. for testing for electromigration in the copper interconnects used in next- generation semiconductors is available through HAKUTO CO., LTD. With its massively parallel architecture, many tests at many temperatures can be run at the same time. The smallest Model 1164 configuration tests 48 packages in four oven chambers, each of which has its own voltage and current sources, processors to control each test, dedicated measuring circuits and oven controller. The system is expandable to 64 oven chambers, all running in parallel. Hakuto has priced the 64-package test configuration at $125,000. It is looking for first-year sales of five to seven units.

With the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries leaning toward requiring the labeling of certain foods that contain genetically modified organisms, GENETIC ID INC. expects a jump in its Japan business. The Fairfield, Iowa company's local office now must send samples to the United States for tests to determine whether a product has been bioengineered. As soon as next spring, however, Genetic ID could open a testing facility in Japan. That would cut the turnaround time to as little as a day from the current week or so. The company also reportedly is weighing whether to license its GMO detection technology to third parties in Japan.

Syringes prefilled by pharmaceutical companies are little used in Japan despite their benefits of ensuring that the right medicine is delivered to patients and improving efficiency at medical facilities. BECTON DICKINSON AND CO. believes that this is a market ripe for growth. Its subsidiary has earmarked roughly $23.3 million to build a plant and a distribution center at its Fukushima prefecture production complex. To date, Becton Dickinson has brought in Hypak prefillable syringes from its French operations for sale to several drug firms.

In a major realignment of Japan's medical equipment marketing business, the big GE Medical Systems unit of GENERAL ELECTRIC CO. is buying for an undisclosed price the distribution operations of NEC MEDICAL SYSTEMS, LTD. The two then will form a venture to market and distribute products and services from GE Marquette Medical Systems, which is part of the Waukesha, Wisconsin GE Medical Systems group, and from NEC Medical Systems. GE Medical Systems will have a 75 percent stake in GE MARQUETTE MEDICAL SYSTEMS JAPAN, LTD., which should be operational October 1. It will have 43 nationwide sales offices and some 350 sales and service personnel who formerly worked for NEC Medical Systems. GE Marquette Japan will offer a wide range of products from its American parent for monitoring patients, diagnosing cardiac disease and managing patient data. It also will distribute cardiovascular and cerebral nerve monitoring equipment developed by NEC Medical Systems, which will continue to design and produce products for the joint venture. GE Marquette Japan is forecasting sales of more than $100 million in its first year of business. Despite the formation of the joint venture, GE Marquette Medical Systems' products still will be distributed through existing channels, including NIHON KOHDEN CORP. and ATOM MEDICAL CORP. Likewise, GE-YOKOGAWA MEDICAL SYSTEMS, LTD. will remain the marketer of GE Medical Systems' diagnostic imaging equipment. MHW has cleared for sale POSITRON CORP.'s Posicam-HZ Series of positron emission tomography scanners. Distribution will be handled exclusively by the subsidiary of IMATRON INC., the majority owner of the Houston company. Imatron estimates that the Posicam system could represent as much as 20 percent of the more than 500 PET scanners expected to be installed in Japan over the next five years. PET scanners are used for the diagnosis and the treatment of patients in the areas of cardiology, neurology and oncology.

With MHW approval in hand, CENTURY MEDICAL INC. has launched marketing of VIDAMED, INC.'s minimally invasive ProVu TUNA system for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia, better known as enlarged prostate condition. The Fremont, California company's ProVu allows the transurethral needle ablation procedure to be performed in both hospital and nonhospital settings.

In a decision that should give a major boost to MATRITECH, INC.'s business in Japan, MHW has set a reimbursement rate for the Newton, Massachusetts firm's NMP22 test kit when used to diagnose urothelial cancer. It is the only bladder cancer detection product to be awarded reimbursement for diagnosis. KONICA CORP. has begun sales of NMP22, which correlates levels of nuclear matrix proteins in the urine to the presence of bladder cancer, to hospital laboratories and such big commercial labs as SRL, INC., Japan's largest clinical lab. The test kit costs about $1,700.

Clinical trials will start later this year of CYROLIFE, INC.'s BioGlue surgical adhesive for vascular and pulmonary repair applications. Eight hospitals will participate in the test of the Atlanta company's animal protein-based product, which has the potential to replace sutures and staples in many surgical procedures.

In a revision of the their mid-1996 licensing agreement, THERMOGENESIS CORP. gave ASAHI MEDICAL CO., LTD. access to its proprietary autologous thrombin activation production technology, which is nearing commercialization at the company's Rancho Cordova, California headquarters. This technology will be integrated into the CryoSeal system already licensed to Asahi Medical to produce what is said to be the first autologous biological sealant. Its Japanese partner paid an undisclosed fee to ThermoGenesis for the technology as well as made a $700,000 equity investment in the company.

Extending its sales and service reach nationwide, CANDELA CORP., a developer of cosmetic and medical laser systems, has opened an office in Osaka. The Wayland, Massachusetts company has had a wholly owned subsidiary in Tokyo since 1995. The Candela line of laser systems includes the GentleLASE for hair removal, the AlexLAZR for treating pigmented lesions and unwanted tattoos and the SPTL-1b, which is used for vascular lesions.

XTREME TELEMETRY SYSTEMS, INC. has signed an exclusive licensing deal with Tokyo's MEDIA TECHNOLOGY GROUP to offer specialized TV and Internet- broadcasted sports data to audiences in Japan and elsewhere in Asia as well as in Australia and New Zealand. Xtreme Telemetry's X/T system provides on-screen information in real time on an athlete's physical performance, including heart rate, body temperature, respiration and stress levels, as well as data on equipment or vehicle performance and environmental conditions. The subsidiary of Orlando, Florida's INNOVATIVE HOLDINGS & TECHNOLOGIES, INC. expects the MTG agreement to yield combined TV and Internet revenues of more than $51 million annually.

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

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