Japan-US Business Report Logo

No. 354, March 1999

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Japanese Companies in the US


The undisputed world market leader in polyester films will emerge from the planned September formation of a global joint venture by TEIJIN LTD. and E.I. DUPONT DE NEMOURS & CO., INC. to make and market polyethylene terephthalate and polyethylene naphthalate polyester films. With projected annual sales of about $1.4 billion and as much as 375,000 tons of production capacity, the equally owned business will control an estimated 26 percent of the international polyester film market. DuPont now is the world's leading supplier of polyester films, followed by TORAY INDUSTRIES, INC. and MITSUBISHI CHEMICAL CORP. While smaller, Teijin is the leading global supplier of PEN films. The unnamed new company will combine Teijin's two plants in Japan and a new facility in Indonesia with DuPont's polyester film operations in the United States, Great Britain, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Japan and the People's Republic of China. TEIJIN DUPONT FILMS LTD. also will be folded into the joint venture. Formed in 1991, this company has plants in Circleville, Ohio and in Luxembourg. DuPont will receive an undisclosed amount of cash from Teijin to cover the difference in the value of their polyester film businesses.

Through internal growth and acquisitions, SUN CHEMICAL CORP. has become the world's number-one producer of printing inks and organic pigments. The latest addition to the Fort Lee, New Jersey company, a wholly owned subsidiary of DAINIPPON INK AND CHEMICALS, INC., is HERITAGE INKS INTERNATIONAL. This Edison, New Jersey manufacturer of news ink and corrugated ink had sales in excess of $55 million in 1997. Like Sun, it has production, sales, service and technical facilities across the United States. Heritage's news ink operations have been integrated into Sun's US Ink division, while its corrugated ink business has been melded into the Sun Chemical Inks (GPI) division. Sun also recently bought a British maker of printing inks to bolster its European operations. The combined cost of this acquisition and the purchase of Heritage is estimated at $85.5 million.

SUMITOMO CHEMICAL CO., LTD., one of the biggest agricultural chemicals producers anywhere, has increased its stake in MCLAUGHLIN GORMLEY KING CO. to 32.9 percent. The Japanese company had owned 14 percent of the Minneapolis maker of household insecticides since 1989. SUMITOMO CORP. also has a 6 percent interest in the company. MGK develops finished products and makes insecticide concentrates containing active ingredients supplied by Sumitomo Chemical. It has some 60 people on the payroll.

Extending its preclinical contract research operations to the United States, SHIN NIPPON BIOMEDICAL LABORATORIES, LTD. acquired for an undisclosed price BIOSUPPORT INC. The Redmond, Washington company, which has about 50 researchers on staff, performs a range of safety and efficacy tests on both drugs and medical devices. It also has the capability to experiment with advanced surgical techniques. Biosupport has been placed under the operational control of SNBL USA, LTD. of Bothell, Washington. Through its subsidiary, the Kagoshima prefecture-based contract research organization also plans to open this fall a preclinical laboratory in Everett, Washington. The 50,000-square-foot facility will focus on toxicology and pharmacology studies in a Good Laboratory Practice environment. The facility will be unique on the West Coast, but Shin Nippon Biomedical clearly hopes that the lab and its Biosupport operation will help it win contracts from Japanese pharmaceutical manufacturers developing products for the American and other foreign markets.

With the Ministry of Health and Welfare willing to accept more data from foreign clinical trials when pharmaceutical companies submit new drug applications, a number of drug manufacturers are considering the possibility of starting clinical testing abroad before they begin trials at home. EISAI CO., LTD., for example, hopes to launch Phase I testing of an endotoxin antagonist for septic shock in the United States this year. Its Teaneck, New Jersey subsidiary will oversee the trials.

SANKYO CO., LTD. has signed a research agreement with QUARK BIOTECH, INC. to use the San Ramon, California company's pathology-specific gene- discovery platform to study gene responses and identify drug candidates for Type II diabetes. QBI's proprietary technology isolates only those genes involved in a particular disease process, thereby aiding in the identification of key molecular targets. The contract includes milestone and royalty payments by Sankyo. People affected by Type II diabetes, the most common form of this disease, either fail to produce enough insulin or do not effectively use the insulin made.

FUJIREBIO INC. tentatively has agreed to license rights to a third- generation anti-ulcer treatment to SALIX PHARMACEUTICALS, LTD. Lafutidine both suppresses the secretion of acid in the stomach and protects the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. In so doing, it helps to insulate the upper GI tract from the harmful actions of gastric acid and ulcer-inducing agents. Palo Alto, California-based Salix specializes in the development and the marketing of treatments for gastrointestinal diseases. Under the letter of intent with Fujirebio, the company would have worldwide rights to Lafutidine outside of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Argentina and Brazil. The Tokyo developer already has submitted a new drug application to MHW for the use of Lafutidine for the treatment of gastric and duodenal ulcers.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.aaaaaa

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