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No. 363, December 1999

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Japanese Companies in the US


MISCELLANEOUS

What is claimed to be the first chemical admixture to reduce the drying shrinkage of concrete and the potential for subsequent cracking is available exclusively in North America from Cleveland's MASTER BUILDERS, INC. The low-viscosity, water-soluble liquid admixture, TETRAGUARD AS20, was developed by one of the companies that merged to form TAIHEIYO CEMENT CORP. In use in Japan and elsewhere in Asia for nearly 15 years, TETRAGUARD AS20 has a proven track record of reducing concrete shrinkage by as much as 80 percent at 28 days and up to 50 percent at a year and beyond. Taiheiyo Cement believes that North American sales of TETRAGUARD AS20 could equal those in Japan in 2002, or about 550 tons a year. Japan's largest cement producer hopes to expand its admixture business in the United States through the tie-up with Master Builders, which specializes in construction chemicals.

ITOCHU CORP. has a 10-year contract to ship 330,600 tons of steel slag annually to American cement producers. They will mix this substitute for limestone with cement for use in such bulkhead projects as dams and ports. Steel slag, a by-product of the steelmaking process, has two major advantages over limestone. First, it is environmentally friendly. Limestone emits carbon dioxide when heated at the extremely high temperatures required for mixing with cement. Second, steel slag costs about half of what limestone does. The steel slag that Itochu exports to the United States will come from NIPPON STEEL CORP. mills.

The 15-year North American marketing arrangement between FUJIMI INC., a major supplier of abrasives and slurries (polishing liquids), and SPEEDFAM-IPEC, INC., a Chandler, Arizona maker of chemical mechanical planarization systems for the semiconductor industry, has ended. SpeedFam-IPEC sold its half interest in abrasive and slurry distributor FUJIMI CORP. of Elmhurst, Illinois to its partner for $9.8 million. The ownership change was engineered to help Fujimi and SpeedFam-IPEC alike focus on their core businesses.

Although it is the largest cosmetics manufacturer in Japan and fourth in the world, SHISEIDO CO., LTD. still is trying to find the right formula for ending its status as an also-ran to such industry giants as ESTEE LAUDER COS. INC. and France's L'OREAL S.A. in the American market. Availability is not the main problem since Shiseido products are sold in some 850 department stores and specialty shops in the United States. Inadequate brand recognition is a far bigger marketing obstacle. In an effort to overcome that stumbling block, Shiseido is experimenting with beauty "service centers." These Shiseido Studios offer customers free makeup. The first American one will be located in New York City's Soho neighborhood. As a complement to this strategy, Shiseido soon will introduce a line of upscale skin-care products called Cie de Peau Beaute. It also is weighing the sale of another skin-care line, Qiora. Both of these lines are sold in Japan.

The company that bills itself as Japan's largest mail-order cosmetics and health-food manufacturer and marketer has introduced its first two products to the American market. Through its Irvine, California subsidiary, FANCL COSMETICS is marketing a line of skin- care products that is completely free of additives and preservatives. Adding to their appeal, the Yokohama firm's cosmetics are packaged in small, hermetically sealed, freshness-dated bottles that contain a two- to three-week supply. Fancl's 28-month-old marketing unit also is offering a powdered green tea in single-serve packets. Both product lines are sold exclusively by mail order or at the company's Web site.

Already the largest single-brand advertising agency anywhere, DENTSU INC. is poised to become the top shareholder in a soon-to-be-formed global advertising and diversified marketing services company that will rank as one of the biggest in the world. This firm, to be headquartered in Chicago, will result from the merger of The Leo Group, which includes among its holdings LEO BURNETT CO., and The MacManus Group, the New York City- based holding company for a number of equally well-known ad agencies. The new holding company will have annual revenues in excess of $1.7 billion, 500 operating units in 90 countries and 16,000 employees. Billings are expected to be split evenly between the United States and other markets and between advertising and diversified marketing services. After the merger, Dentsu will take a stake of approximately 20 percent in the new company, which will be the Japanese firm's major partner in serving clients outside of Asia. Dentsu's involvement is an outgrowth of negotiations it initiated late in 1998 with Burnett about an alliance that would help to build business in the United States and Europe.

An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.aaaaa

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