World sales of impact-resistant Metton, a specialty liquid resin used for molding complex shapes, could reach 16,500 tons a year by 2003, a 150 percent jump, according to developer TEIJIN LTD. To that end, the big plastics manufacturer is taking several steps to beef up its Metton business in the United States. For starters, Teijin increased its stake in Abingdon, Virginia-headquartered METTON AMERICA INC. to 61 percent from the 36 percent it had acquired at the end of 1996. Most of the balance is owned by 21ST CENTURY CONTAINERS, LTD., with trader NICHIMEN CORP. holding a small share. In cooperation with MARUZEN PETROCHEMICAL CO., LTD., Metton America also will build a plant next year near its LaPorte, Texas production facilities for dicyclopentadiene, a key Metton input now imported from Japan. The plant could cost anywhere from $8.3 million to double that figure. In addition, a Metton technical service center will be established in this country, possibly as soon as 2000. All of these moves are geared to rising demand for Metton from truck and construction machinery manufacturers in the United States and Europe.
Volume production of excimer laser photoresists has started at JSR MICROELECTRONICS, INC. in Sunnyvale, California. Photoresists are a photosensitive resin solution used for imaging circuits on semiconductor wafers. As chips become more complex, circuit geometries shrink. Consequently, manufacturers are switching to excimer laser lithography systems because of their ability to print smaller circuit dimensions with larger process latitude. The excimer laser photoresists made by the JSR CORP. subsidiary can be used for imaging circuit features in the wavelength range of 150 nanometers to 180 nm, although JSR Microelectronics has developed excimer photoresist technology capable of imaging 125-nm circuit features. On opening in March 1997, the plant made positive-type i-line (365-nm) photoresists. It has the capacity to turn out 125,000 gallons of photoresists annually.
Continuing its search for ways to accelerate the drug discovery process, JAPAN TOBACCO INC. has reached agreement with SANGAMO BIOSCIENCES, INC. to use its Universal GeneTools platform to validate novel gene targets. The Point Richmond, California company's technology enables the design and the generation of highly specific zinc finger proteins transcription factors that selectively can recognize and regulate any target gene or DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). Japan Tobacco is providing an undisclosed amount of funding to Sangamo.
America's Blood Centers, a nationwide network of nonprofit, independent community blood banks that provides nearly half of the U.S. blood supply, has joined the American Red Cross in evaluating a new blood-screening system developed by San Diego, California-based GEN-PROBE INC. and CHIRON CORP. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 353, February 1999, p. 20). Their investigational system uses transcription-medi-ated amplification, a state-of-the-art technology for nucleic acid testing originated by Gen-Probe, that can detect infectious viruses, especially the hepatitis C virus and the human immunodeficiency virus, in blood samples before donors develop antibodies to them. Gen-Probe is a CHUGAI PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. company.
An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.
The first server vendor to announce an eight-processor system incorporating INTEL CORP.'s just released Pentium III Xeon chip was not one of the usual big U.S. computer manufacturers but the NEC Computer Systems Division of PACKARD BELL NEC, INC. It got the jump on the competition by utilizing its own eight-way multiprocessing architecture, the NEC Aqua II, for the Express5800 HV8600 instead of waiting for Intel's delayed Profusion chipset. The HV8600 comes with 128 megabytes of Level 3 cache, as much as 8 gigabytes of internal RAM (random access memory) and 12 hot-swappable disks. The base configuration starts at $36,800 for two 500-MHz Pentium III Xeon processors with 1 MB of Level 2 cache each and 256 MB of internal memory. NEC CSD officials, like industry analysts, say that the increased performance and scalability of eight-way systems using the Pentium III Xeon will allow companies to run large data-base applications that previously were reserved for RISC (reduced instruction-set computing) platforms because of performance constraints.
Companies that do not require an eight-way Pentium III Xeon server but want to take advantage of the new processor's enhanced multiprocessing capabilities, faster clock speed and other performance improvements have several options just from Japanese-affiliated computer makers. For instance, the NEC Computer Systems Division of PACKARD BELL NEC, INC. unveiled the Express5800 HX4600 and the Express5800 MH4500 along with the eight-processor HV8600. The four-way HX4600 is designed for on-line transaction processing and other applications that typically place heavy loads across a systems's processor, memory, disk and network bandwidth. Its pricing starts at $14,900 for two 500-MHz Pentium III Xeon processors with 512 kilobytes of L2 cache each and 256 MB of system RAM. The MH4500 is targeted at companies that want a powerful Pentium III Xeon processor-based four-way server at an affordable price. About $8,700 buys a system with one 450-MHz Pentium III Xeon with 512 KB of cache and 256 MB of internal memory. All of the NEC CSD products shipped in April.
The 500-MHz Pentium III Xeon processor will be incorporated as well in both of HITACHI PC CORP.'s four-way servers, the midrange VisionBase 8450 and the high-end VisionBase 8460. They were scheduled to be available in April. The Milpitas, California company, which soon will be folded into HITACHI DATA SYSTEMS CORP. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 354, March 1999, p. 3), also announced that it would support the 500- MHz Pentium III Xeon processor in its enterprise-level VisionBase 8880 eight-way server line as soon as the Profusion chipset is released.
The Computer Systems Division of TOSHIBA AMERICA INFORMATION SYSTEMS, INC. opted for a different strategy. The 500-MHz Pentium III Xeon processor and its 550-MHz counterpart will show up in the company's departmental-class server line, the two-way-capable Magnia 5100, before they debut this summer in the four-processor Magnia 6000 family. The Magnia 5100 with dual 550-MHz chips will feature 512 KB of L2 cache, while systems with two 500-MHz processors will offer a choice of 1 MB or 2 MB of cache. Both machines will come standard with 256 MB of synchronous DRAM (dynamic random access memory), expandable to 2 GB.
Information technology managers interested in lowering the cost of managing personal computers are the target market of the PowerMate ES (enterprise solution) Series of desktop machines from the NEC Computer Systems Division of PACKARD BELL NEC, INC. The PowerMate ES 5200 uses the same motherboard in all three chassis forms slim desktop, desktop and minitower. This approach reduces the costs not only of software development but of support, service, training and logistics as well. The PowerMate ES 5200 line starts at $850 when configured with a 333-MHz Celeron processor, 32 MB of internal RAM and a 4.3-GB hard drive. Models also are available with Pentium II and Pentium III chips. A system featuring a 500-MHz Pentium III processor, 64 MB of system memory and an 8.4-GB hard drive has an estimated street price of $1,850.
Simultaneously, PACKARD BELL NEC, INC.'s NEC CSD replaced its line of Direction desktop systems with the PowerMate VT (value and technology) Series. As the name suggests, this family is designed to bring the latest technology to corporate customers at prices as low as $800. That is the cost of the initial PowerMate VT 300 PC with a 333-MHz Celeron processor, 32 MB of RAM and 4.3 GB of storage. Buyers also have a choice of Pentium II and Pentium III chips. A system configured with a 500-MHz Pentium III, 64 MB of memory and an 8.4-GB hard drive goes for about $1,700.
New product launches are a key part of struggling PACKARD BELL NEC, INC.'s strategy for returning to profitability (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 354, March 1999, p. 3). To that end, NEC CSD also introduced the third generation of its Versa LX series of notebook computers. Available with either a 333-MHz or a 366-MHz mobile Pentium II processor, the new line features the ATI Rage LT Pro video chipset with 8 MB of video RAM and AGP (advanced graphics port) capability for improved graphic performance. The Versa LX series also shares with other NEC CSD notebooks an all-in-one design with a built-in floppy or SuperDisk 120-MB drive, a hard drive and a modular VersaBay drive that can accept seven different, warm-swappable storage and power computing tools. Buyers have the choice of a 13.3-inch or a 14.1-inch TFT (thin-film-transistor) LCD (liquid crystal display) display with XGA (extended graphics array) resolution, internal memory expandable from 64 MB to 256 MB and hard- drive capacities of 4 GB, 6 GB and 10 GB. Pricing for typical build-to- order Versa LX models runs from $2,700 to $4,000.
The Computer Systems Division of TOSHIBA AMERICA INFORMATION SYSTEMS, INC. does not take its leadership position in portable computers for granted. On one day, it released additions to three different lines of notebook PCs. First, it broadened its line of value-priced models for the corporate market with the introduction of the Satellite 4060CDT. An estimated $2,700 buys a 333-MHz Pentium II processor, 64 MB of synchronous DRAM, a 4.3-GB hard drive, a 24X CD-ROM drive, a floppy drive and a 13.3-inch TFT display in a sleek, integrated package. Then, for the value-oriented SOHO (small office/home office) market and individual users, TAIS added the Satellite 2545 series. All three models use the 333-MHz mobile AMD-K6-2 processor with 3DNow! technology from ADVANCED MICRO DEVICES, INC., a first for the company, although TOSHIBA CORP. has used AMD processors for some of its Japan products. The Satellite 2545 notebooks also share a 4.3-GB hard drive and a 24X CD-ROM drive. However, the Satellite 2545XCDT has a 14.1-inch TFT display and 64 MB of high-speed memory for $1,900, while the Satellite 2545CDS and the Satellite 2540CDS come with a 13-inch display and 32 MB of internal memory for about $1,600. Finally, Irvine, California-based TAIS strengthened its line-up of ultraportable systems for mobile professionals. The Portégé 3020CT/3025CT offer the new 300-MHz Pentium processor with MMX technology, 32 MB of high-speed memory, a 6.4-GB hard drive and a 10.4-inch TFT display in an ultralight (2.9 pounds), ultrathin design for roughly $2,000.
One of the biggest names in rugged notebook PCs, PANASONIC PERSONAL COMPUTER CO., also has refreshed its lineup. The 2.6-pound Toughbook 33 is a full-performance Windows-based system. It runs off a 266-MHz Pentium processor with MMX technology and offers 32 MB of RAM, a 4.3-GB hard drive, a floppy disk, an 8.4-inch TFT display with touch-input capability and a full-size keyboard. However, the Toughbook 33 also has a magnesium-alloy case and a shock-dampened hard drive for field durability as well as antireflective coating on the screen for outdoor viewing. The system has a suggested retail price of $2,000.
For its part, the Dover, New Jersey subsidiary of CASIO COMPUTER CO., LTD. continues to make a name for itself in handheld devices powered by the Windows CE operating system. Its latest product is the $400 palm- sized CASSIOPEIA E-15, which runs off the Windows CE for the Palm-size PC Version 1.2 operating system. This 6.5-ounce machine is designed for one-hand access to data, viewable on a 16-scale monochrome, touch-sensitive LCD display. The CASSIOPEIA E-15, which has 16 MB of memory, uses NEC CORP.'s 69-MHz VR4111 processor.
Fast-expanding disk drive vendor FUJITSU COMPUTER PRODUCTS OF AMERICA, INC. is shipping a new line of 2.5-inch drives for notebook computers that operates at 4,200 revolutions per minute with an ATA-4 interface. All four models use giant magnetoresistive heads and other components developed and manufactured by FUJITSU, LTD. That technology source, its San Jose, California subsidiary says, has resulted in performance enhancements as well as increased ruggedness and reliability. The MHG2102AT provides 10 GB of storage in a 12.5- millimeter form factor, while the 9.5-mm MHH20XXAT is available in capacities of 3.2 GB, 4.8 GB and 6.4 GB.
In a first for audio equipment manufacturer KENWOOD CORP., it has an original equipment manufacturer contract. The deal covers CD-ROM drives for installation in COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s Presario and Deskpro PCs. The Kenwood 52X TrueX drive is based on Cupertino, California- headquartered ZEN RESEARCH INC.'s TrueX technology, which improves optical disc drive performance. The Kenwood product is said to provide consistent high-performance data throughput across the entire disc rather than just on the outermost tracks like other advertised "max" CD-ROM drives. Production of the Kenwood 52X TrueX is expected to run initially at 10,000 units a month, but the company hopes to boost monthly output to 30,000 units by signing OEM contracts with other PC vendors. The drive also is available through major computer retail channels for $130.
Two Japanese companies have set their sights on gaining share in the U.S. market for ink-jet printers at the expense of HEWLETT-PACKARD CO., which controls more than half of this business. Through one of its Costa Mesa, California subsidiaries, CANON INC. introduced a fast but affordable color ink-jet printer for the SOHO and home-user market. The BJC-6000, which is expected to retail for about $250, outputs up to five pages per minute. It also comes bundled with software for customizing photographs and creating letterhead and cards. For its part, SEIKO EPSON CORP., which ranks second to HP in the U.S. ink-jet printer market with a roughly 20 percent share, sees the Stylus Color 900 as its latest strategic product. This machine, aimed squarely at corporate customers, can print as many as 12 ppm in monochrome and is said to turn out photorealistic color prints at a speed and a cost comparable to monochrome laser printers.
At the same time, SEIKO EPSON CORP., via its Torrance, California subsidiary, announced its first wide-format printing solution. Designed to handle various paper types up to 44 inches wide, the Stylus Pro 9000 is being marketed to corporate graphics departments, print-for-pay shops and professional photography studios. The system features Epson's Micro Piezo dual-density-droplet print technology, which delivers 1440 x 720 dots-per-inch resolution, a precise and consistent dot size and a six- color, high-capacity, quick-drying ink system. The basic Stylus Pro 9000 has an estimated street price of $8,000. Equipped with PostScript 3 bundled with Epson's RS-5100 Fiery X2 RIP (raster image processor), the printer runs bout $14,000.
Although its strength might be in ink-jet technology, SEIKO EPSON CORP. also has its eye on the corporate color laser printer market. Its Torrance, California marketing unit has unveiled the ColorPage 8000 for workgroups as well as for graphics professionals. The system delivers up to 4 ppm in color and 16 ppm in monochrome with a 600 x 600-dpi print resolution. The ColorPage 8000 also can turn out tabloid-size pages as fast as 2 ppm in color and 8 ppm in black and white. An external Fiery color server with PostScript 3 is standard.
Multifunction or all-in-one devices have not caught on as fast as initially projected, but suppliers like SHARP CORP. are undeterred. Within the space of four months, its Mahwah, New Jersey subsidiary announced two digital document systems for workgroup environments and small offices. The second, the AR-200 IMAGER, is a 20-ppm digital laser copier with scan- once/print-many capabilities and 600-dpi resolution. It has a suggested retail price of $3,600. Another $770 allows the AR-200 to perform as a 20-ppm network printer capable of 1200-dpi output. For an extra $1,450, the AR-200 can be upgraded to a high-speed facsimile machine.
The same customer groups are the target for MITA INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD.'s LDC-820 laser fax. This modular unit, priced around $1,700, can transmit documents at 6 seconds per page and make copies at a rate of 6 ppm. Adding a $300 printer board enables the LDC-820 to print as many as 6 ppm with a 600-dpi resolution. A $150 serial interface also allows users to scan documents and text directly into their PCs and to send and receive PC faxes.
The world's largest manufacturer of LCD projectors, SANYO ELECTRIC CO., LTD., certainly believes that when it comes to business presentations, the quality of the projector is just as important as the presentation. To that end, its Chatsworth, California marketing unit made two additions to its projector line. The PLC-SP10N, described as one of the smallest and most powerful multimedia LCD projectors in its class, produces brightness well above the average with its 1,250 lumens at the same time that it delivers a SVGA (super video graphics array) resolution of 800 x 600 pixels. For presenters seeking even greater brightness and resolution, the Sanyo subsidiary introduced the PLC-XP10N. Also compact, this model provides 1,400 lumens of brightness and XGA resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels. It carries a suggested retail price of $14,000.
An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.
Another of the "trophy" properties that corporate Japan acquired during the late 1980s has changed hands. Through a U.S. subsidiary, NIPPON LIFE INSURANCE CO. sold the Century Plaza Hotel and Tower for $260 million to a group of private investors. Whether Japan's biggest insurance company made money on the sale of the 1,046-room luxury hotel, a Los Angeles landmark, or even covered its acquisition and renovation costs is the subject of some debate in the real estate community. Regardless, Nippon Life, no less in need of money than other Japanese life insurers, decided to capitalize on the strong U.S. property market.
An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.
Strong U.S. demand for flat-screen computer and television displays has convinced SONY ELECTRONICS, INC. to convert two of the five cathode-ray tube production lines at its sprawling San Diego, California complex from conventional, curved picture tubes to FD Trinitron flat-screen picture tubes. The factory's 32-inch television picture tube line will be switched over in May, and the 19-inch computer display picture tube line will be changed in June at a combined cost of $10 million. Shipments of FD Trinitron picture tubes will start in late summer. They will be used in FD Trinitron Wega flat screen TV sets and FD Trinitron Multiscan computer displays assembled in the San Diego area. Sony Electronics introduced these products last August. Despite the conversion of the two lines, they still will be able to produce conventional picture tubes should demand swing back in that direction. The plant's other lines will continue to turn out 20-inch and 27-inch TV CRTs and 17-inch computer display CRTs. The five lines have a combined annual capacity in excess of 6 million TV and computer display picture tubes, part of which is exported. What Sony Electronics calls the Sony Technology Center-San Diego employs more than 4,000 people in the design, development and production of 30-plus products for the TV, computer and wireless communications industries. SONY CORP. has invested more than $1 billion in the complex since 1972.
TOSHIBA CORP. has extended its low-temperature polysilicon TFT LCD expertise to a wider range of high-resolution applications with the release of a 4-inch TFT LCD with a VGA resolution of 640 x 480 pixels. The company's low-temperature polysilicon technology is said to yield TFT LCDs that not only are more durable, thinner and brighter than typical amorphous-silicon TFT LCDs but also use less power and provide a higher resolution. Deerfield, Illinois-based TOSHIBA AMERICA ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS, INC. is sampling the 4-inch panel to makers of handheld and palm-size devices at $500 each. Last fall, TAEC introduced an 8.4-inch low-temperature polysilicon TFT LCD with SVGA resolution (800 x 600 pixels) and a 10.4-inch LTPS TFT LCD with XGA resolution (1024 x 768 pixels) for ultraportable computers.
Development and manufacturing partners MA-TSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD., MATSUSHITA-KOTOBUKI ELECTRONICS INDUSTRIES, LTD. and QUANTUM CORP. have figured out how to marry digital storage technology with audio/video products, a pairing that will allow consumers to store selected entertainment and educational programming and immediately access the content. The key to this breakthrough is the Milpitas, California company's Quantum QuickView digital storage technology. Based on hard disk drives that can be installed in TV set-top boxes, TV sets or digital videocassette recorders, this know-how makes random access recording and high-speed, noise-free playback possible. The partners have demonstrated Quantum QuickView in a MEI high-definition TV set. However, the first commercial AVHDD-enabled product could be a home video editing console with unique image control functions. Down the line, MEI expects to offer a HDTV receiver with pause, instant replay, fast, noiseless searching and extended recording of satellite and other digital broadcasts.
For the second time in less than a year, HITACHI, LTD. reorganized HITACHI HOME ELECTRONICS (AMERICA), INC. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 345, June 1998, p. 3). It made the San Diego, California-based importer, manufacturer and marketer of consumer electronics products a wholly owned subsidiary of HITACHI AMERICA, LTD. The move is designed to capitalize on the convergence of computing, communications and consumer electronics products, all of which now fall under the aegis of Brisbane, California-based Hitachi America. Ownership of Hitachi Home Electronics (America) previously had been split between Hitachi America (60 percent) and Hitachi (40 percent).
Within 1999, SEIKO EPSON CORP. expects to open a research and development facility on the East Coast. The firm currently is weighing sites in the Boston area and in South Carolina. The new center, which could have as many as 100 employees in time, will complement the work done by EPSON RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT, INC. of San Jose, California. Opened in 1997, it has roughly 200 people on staff.
Hoping to double North American sales in the near term, antenna maker YOKOWO CO., LTD. opened three marketing offices, including ones in San Diego, California and in suburban Detroit. Its Arlington Heights, Illinois subsidiary oversees the new operations. The Tokyo manufacturer had North American sales of nearly $8.3 million in the year through March 1998.
An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.
Add SUMITOMO TRUST & BANKING CO., LTD. to the already long list of Japanese banks that are scaling back their American operations or even pulling out of the market as part of a much-needed restructuring strategy. Sumitomo Trust will consolidate all its U.S. business in its New York City branch, in the process closing two representative offices.
Japanese banks also continue to use their U.S. financial services units to raise money for restructuring. The latest to tap this source of capital is TOKAI BANK, LTD. The Nagoya-based commercial bank sold TOKAI FINANCIAL SERVICES INC. to an affiliate of a Dutch company for $410 million. The Berwyn, Pennsylvania office equipment leasing company had a net profit of $19 million in 1997.
In advance of NEW JAPAN SECURITIES CO., LTD. buying WAKO SECURITIES CO., LTD. in April 2000 to form Japan's fourth-biggest brokerage house, Wako Securities sold its Manhattan-based investment advisory firm to SUMITOMO LIFE INSURANCE CO. for $6.7 million. The renamed FARRELL-SL INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, INC., which has been in business since 1991, will continue to manage money for its existing clients while strengthening its investment trust (Japanese-style mutual funds) operations in Japan.
Communications entrepreneurs have a new source of venture capital, CENCOM V SOURCING, INC. Formed by the main U.S. subsidiary of MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. along with a unit of Canada's largest telecommunications company and a pair of venture capital firms plus a venture consulting business, the Palo Alto, California firm will identify and start cutting-edge communications companies from their earliest and most risky phase. The partners are particularly interested in businesses that emerge from the convergence of telecommunications, electronic media and computer networking. MEI's recently opened Panasonic Digital Concepts Center in Cupertino, California (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 350, November 1998, p. 5) will provide expertise and assistance to CenCom V.
An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.
In its second expansion in a year (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 343, April 1998, p. 4), snack and cracker manufacturer SESMARK FOODS, INC. will add a fourth production line at its Loves Park, Illinois factory to expand production of its mainstay Usuyaki (thin) rice crackers. The new capacity, which will come onstream this summer, will add 10 percent to output and allow the company to start exports of its Rice Thins to Europe and Australia. With these and other moves, Sesmark Foods believes that sales will rise 12 percent in 1999 to $28 million. MITSUBISHI CORP. and KAMEDA SEIKA K.K. are the company's majority owners.
The third-largest Pepsi-Cola bottler in the United States will be formed through the pending merger of the franchise operations of PEPCOM INDUSTRIES, INC. in New York and North Carolina with two PEPSICO, INC. plants in North Carolina. Raleigh, North Carolina-headquartered PepCom is a wholly owned subsidiary of SUNTORY LTD. It acquired the bottling plants in Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island and in central and eastern North Carolina that will be part of the new company in 1980. The two plants that PepsiCo is contributing to the venture are located in Winston- Salem and Wilmington, North Carolina. PepCom will be the majority owner of the unnamed joint venture, which will account for nearly 3 percent of PepsiCo's U.S. beverage volume. Suntory is the master bottling franchisee for Pepsi-Cola in Japan.
An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.
To better serve the North American automotive industry, big bearing manufacturer NTN CORP. opened a state-of-the-art technical center in Farmington Hills, Michigan. The facility currently is equipped with computer-controlled testing equipment for constant velocity joints, a product that NTN supplies to GENERAL MOTORS CORP. and FORD MOTOR CO. They and other customers also can use the center's secure service bays to install NTN products and testing devices on their test vehicles before taking them to their test tracks. In a second phase, scheduled for 2000, the center will have test equipment for hub bearings and engine parts. A longtime U.S. manufacturer, NTN has eight plants here as well as test laboratories, sales, engineering and distribution centers across the country. It also operates a technical center in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Altogether, the company employs 3,600 people in North America.
From October, forklift manufacturer TOYOTA INDUSTRIAL EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURING, INC. will make the world's first lift truck with a computer-controlled safety system. Designed, for example, to prevent the machine from tilting when the lift mechanism is loaded, the safety assurance system initially will be incorporated in TIEM's engine-powered Geneo. The Columbus, Indiana company expects to turn out 19,000 Geneo lift trucks in the first six months of production. Parents TOYODA AUTOMATIC LOOM WORKS, LTD. (80 percent) and TOYOTA MOTOR CORP. (20 percent) are considering the system for battery-operated forklifts made by 10-year-old TIEM.
Like other hard-pressed Japanese manufacturers of construction equipment, ISHIKAWAJIMA CONSTRUCTION MACHINERY CO., LTD. hopes to take advantage of a strong U.S. residential and commercial building market. The manufacturer of compact excavators, which have been distributed by COMPACT EQUIPMENT CORP., believes that a more hands-on approach could lift sales. Consequently, Ishikawajima and its Elizabethtown, Kentucky agent have formed COMPACT EXCAVATOR SALES CORP., also located in Elizabethtown, to handle sales of the imported product on an exclusive basis. The Japanese partner has a 25 percent interest in the 10-person company.
NIIGATA ENGINEERING CO., LTD. has lined up a powerful marketing ally for its new line of liquid fuel generator sets for the power generation and industrial markets. Under a five-year arrangement, the GE Power Systems unit of GENERAL ELECTRIC CO., the world's leading supplier of power- generation technology, will be the exclusive distributor of the HLX line in the Americas, Europe, Africa and in parts of the Middle East and Asia. Niigata Engineering will be responsible for sales in Japan, South Korea, Iran and Iraq. Both companies will service such markets as the People's Republic of China. GE Power Systems says that the HLX products, which currently have an output rating of 1.2 megawatts to 9.7 MW, achieve the highest performance level of any medium-speed reciprocating engine on the market. In another plus, they can burn heavy fuel oil as well as lighter diesel fuels. The line also features simplified maintenance and inspection.
An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.
This summer, the Mahwah, New Jersey marketing unit of SHARP CORP. will launch a digital video camera designed specifically for use on the Internet. The lightweight, palm-size VN-EZ1 Internet ViewCam, the first digital camcorder to employ MPEG-4 data-compression technology, will allow users to shoot and save up to 60 minutes of video on removable SmartMedia storage media. The video files then can be easily transferred to a PC for electronic mailing or posting on a Web page. By eliminating large video files and long download times, Sharp claims that the VN-EZ1 Internet ViewCam will make it just as easy to post and transfer digital video on the Internet as digital still images.
An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.
Harnessing global positioning system technology to the needs of the surveying, industrial geographic information systems mapping and machine control markets is the goal of a development and marketing alliance between surveying instrument market leader TOPCON CORP. and MAGELLAN CORP., a pioneer in the GPS business. Initially, the Japanese company and Santa Clara, California-based Magellan, the satellite access products subsidiary of ORBITAL SCIENCES CORP., planned to form a U.S. joint venture that would have taken over certain Magellan assets as well as personnel and technology. In time, though, the pair decided that they could achieve the same objectives by pursuing a simpler, more flexible relationship.
An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.
Building on a 1996 relationship, FUJITSU, LTD. and RAMTRON INTERNATIONAL CORP. have signed a two-year agreement to develop the process technology for embeddable, 0.35-micron, 3-volt, multilevel metal ferroelectric random access memories. The program is designed to improve standard memory devices as well as advanced integrated circuits like microcontrollers and application-specific ICs with embedded memory. Development of the world's first 0.35-micron FRAM process will involve Ramtron's Colorado Springs, Colorado facility, which will be equipped with Fujitsu-supplied processing equipment, and the Japanese partner's Iwate prefecture CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) plant. In the second half of this year, Fujitsu will begin volume production at the Iwate facility of 64-kilobit and 256-kilobit FRAMs using 0.5-micron design rules. Ramtron has FRAM licensing and manufacturing agreements with HITACHI, LTD., ROHM CO., LTD. and TOSHIBA CORP. in addition to Fujitsu.
NEC CORP. licensed its new 32-bit V850E microcontroller core, part of the company's 0.25-micron ASIC standard cell library, to TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INC. for use in TI's fast-expanding family of digital signal processors. With a clock speed of 100 MHz at 2.5 volts, the V850E core offers a wide selection of user-configurable features and integration options. The first TI DSP incorporating the NEC part will be released this spring.
Looking to the day not far off when consumer electronics products and appliances will be able to communicate with each other via a home network, MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. invested in EPIGRAM, INC. The three-year-old Sunnyvale, California company has developed chipsets that permit 10-megabit-per-second home network connectivity using existing telephone lines. The parts, based on Epigram's InsideLine technology, can be embedded in PCs, modems, cable modems, set-top boxes, television sets and other information devices. The investment by MEI, one of the world's biggest producers of electronic products for the home, actually was made by the company's Panasonic Digital Concepts Center in Cupertino, California (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 350, November 1998, p. 5) in its first such move. The amount of money involved was not disclosed, but industry sources put it at less than $4.2 million, which gave MEI a share of 10 percent tops in Epigram.
MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP. also sees a major market developing in the United States in the next few years for chips that implement the Home API (application programming interface) standard for operating appliances via PCs. The company will begin sampling Home API semiconductors in the spring of 2000, with commercial sales scheduled to start in 2001. The Home API initiative is spearheaded by MICROSOFT CORP., INTEL CORP. and COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.
Hoping that the integration of its two U.S. semiconductor operations will strengthen its market position, ASAHI KASEI MICROSYSTEMS CO., LTD. merged AKM DESIGN TEK, INC. and AKM SEMICONDUCTOR, INC. The former was a San Diego, California design and development firm; the latter company, based in San Jose, California, was the marketing arm. Both were set up in 1995. The combined business, which retains the AKM Semiconductor name, is headquartered in San Diego, with a marketing office in San Jose. AKM is an ASAHI CHEMICAL INDUSTRY CO., LTD. affiliate.
Big automatic test equipment manufacturer ADVANTEST CORP. has bolstered its U.S. capabilities with the formation of ADVANTEST TEST ENGINEERING CORP. in Santa Clara, California. The engineering services company complements Advantest's Buffalo Grove, Illinois-headquartered North American sales and distribution subsidiary and a development subsidiary that also is located in Santa Clara. .....Meanwhile, ADVANTEST CORP. has installed one of its ultrahigh-speed (up to 1 gigahertz) T5591 test platforms at VIKING COMPONENTS INC.'s headquarters in Rancho Santa Margarita, California. The company, a major maker of memory upgrade products for both semiconductor makers and computer manufacturers, is using the system to test DDR (double data rate) synchronous DRAM and RAMBUS INC.'s RIMM memory modules. A major selling point of the T5591 for Viking Components was the easy customization of the system to accommodate the varying test requirements of its OEM customers. Advantest introduced the T5591 in 1998.
An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.
Privately owned Internet companies that need to raise money to expand operations are finding that SOFTBANK CORP. is not the only Japanese company interested in getting on the electronic business bandwagon. For example, HIKARI TSUSHIN, INC., a marketer of long-distance, cellular and Internet services, committed funds to two Internet businesses within the space of a month. It put up $14 million of the $16 million raised by TUMBLEWEED SOFTWARE CORP. in its latest round of venture funding. The Redwood City, California company is a supplier of secure, on-line file and document delivery solutions through its Posta software. Hikari Tsushin plans to broaden its business by providing Posta-based secure messaging services to its customers. The Tumbleweed software already is used by NIPPON TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE CORP. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 343, September 1998, p. 16).
HIKARI TSUSHIN, INC. also participated along with ITOCHU CORP. and ITOCHU TECHNO-SCIENCE CORP. in a new round of financing for UNWIRED PLANET, INC. that raised $18 million. Although the amount that Hikari Tsushin invested was not disclosed, it reportedly now has a 3 percent stake in the Redwood City, California company, the provider of an open software platform that delivers secure, scalable and live interactive applications and information services to wireless handsets. Previous Japanese investors in Unwired Planet include DDI CORP., KYOCERA CORP. and MITSUBISHI CORP. DDI and fellow cellular services provider NIPPON IDOU TSUSHIN CORP. already use the UP.Link Platform to deliver wireless Internet and electronic mail services to their customers (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 345, June 1998, p. 21).
Another major player in the secure delivery of data over the Internet, E- PARCEL, LLC, also has tighten its Japan ties. TOYOTA TSUSHO CORP. invested an undisclosed amount in the Newton, Massachusetts- headquartered company. The two are not strangers. The trader is the main distributor of the e-Parcel Service in Japan and already has spent several million dollars on market research and business development (see Japan- U.S. Business Report No. 344, May 1998, p. 19). e-Parcel, which started off in June 1996 as a MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP. company but which has been independent since April 1998, counts more than 20,000 corporations around the world as customers.
JAFCO CO., LTD., Japan's largest venture capital firm, and NIPPON INVESTMENT & FINANCE CO., LTD. participated in a second round of funding for ENCOMMERCE, INC. The Santa Clara, California developer of the getAccess secure Web access solution raised more than $5.9 million in private equity investment this time around. The two Japanese companies were among the initial outside investors in enCommerce. A localized version of getAccess is on the market in Japan through several distributors (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 352, January 1999, p. 20).
The first electronic commerce system has been deployed that prices American-developed software titles in local currencies rather than in dollars and that directly bills the credit cards of buyers in their own currency. Originated by Santa Clara, California-based ONE GALAXY SOLUTION, INC., a start-up wholly owned by MITSUBISHI CORP., in conjunction with WELLS FARGO & CO., an early Internet merchant banker, One Galaxy Solution also enables software publishers to sell their products globally without going through the hassle of establishing complex and expensive e-commerce operations for individual countries. The multicurrency pricing and credit-card processing system initially is targeted at consumers in Japan and the United Kingdom, but it reportedly will be extended later this year to Germany and Australia.
All functions of the Glovia enterprise resource planning system now can be deployed across intranets or extranets via industry-standard Web browsers, GLOVIA INTERNATIONAL LLC announced. The El Segundo, California company is a partnership between FUJITSU, LTD. (30.5 percent) and MCDONNELL INFORMATION SYSTEMS GROUP PLC (69.5 percent) that was formed in July 1997. The new capabilities are based on the rapid development environment and Proiv JavaSuite technology of PROIV TECHNOLOGY INC., a wholly owned British subsidiary of MDIS. Glovia, which has more than 750 customer sites around the world, specializes in ERP software solutions for the automotive, capital equipment, electronics and telecommunications industries.
A year after Interstage was introduced in Japan, developer FUJITSU, LTD. released the enterprise application middleware in the United States and elsewhere around the world. Available here through FUJITSU SOFTWARE CORP. of San Jose, California, Interstage gives enterprises a distributed object environment based on the CORBA (common object request broker architecture) standard as well as a transaction environment within the network through on-line transaction processing componentware. The package also delivers a distributed object server system that can be linked with a Web browser and Enterprise Java Beans technology, which helps developers create, deploy and manage cross-platform, component- based server applications.
The just released Fujitsu COBOL v4.2 for Windows 95/98/NT continues FUJITSU SOFTWARE CORP.'s practice of adding features and performance enhancements to this product on close to an annual basis. Among other changes, the new version incorporates improvements to the PowerCOBOL graphical user interface development environment, including toolbars, pop-up menus, tool tips and better ActiveX control support. Fujitsu COBOL v4.2 also provides increased compatibility with Micro Focus COBOL. The 3.0 version of the product, the first U.S. release, appeared in 1997.
FUJITSU, LTD. and FUJITSU SOFTWARE CORP. are working with INTEL CORP. to develop 64-bit COBOL compiler products for the future IA-64 family of processors. The initial implementation of the compiler will be optimized for the Merced processor, the first Intel engine based on the IA-64 architecture. The forthcoming Fujitsu products will be available for MICROSOFT CORP.'s Windows 64 operating system and for SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC.'s Solaris for Merced platform. The Japanese company promises an easy transition to the IA-64 COBOL development environment for software developers now using its COBOL compiler and tools for 32- bit applications.
Help is on the way for a printed circuit board industry confronted by the design challenges of shrinking vias, the pathways that carry a signal from one board layer to another. With input from MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. and MATSUSHITA ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS CO., LTD., a solution will be available from CADENCE DESIGN SYSTEMS, INC. The trio will develop an add-on for the SPECCTRA expert, which is part of the electronic design automation leader's Intrica family of PCB and IC packaging design products, that supports MEI's Any-Layer Interstitial Via Hole technology. ALIVH is an advanced substrate technology that specifically targets microvias. The SPECCTRA option, Cadence says, will produce a dramatic improvement in autorouting for high-density PCBs used in such products as cellular telephones and handheld electronic devices. The ALIVH microvia option, scheduled for second-quarter availability, will cost $5,000.
Although INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP. still is refining its "pervasive computing" strategy which, in simple terms, involves tying together a wide variety of mobile computing and embedded devices it already has agreed to work with SHARP CORP. Their initial goal is modest: adapting a client for the Notes groupware/Domino server software of IBM subsidiary LOTUS DEVELOPMENT CORP. to run on Sharp's popular Zaurus personal digital assistant. Down the road, however, Sharp and IBM hope to promote the computer giant's goal of enabling people to transparently access a network and exchange data, with the network taking over functions now performed at the client level. This vision shares some characteristics with the narrower objective of bringing about the convergence of PCs (broadly defined) with consumer electronics products and appliances. A number of other big Japanese electronics companies are seeking that marriage through alliances with MICROSOFT CORP. and/or SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC.
An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.
Reinforcing a 15-year relationship, TOSHIBA CORP. acquired a 5 percent interest in the Hauppauge, New York wireless subsidiary of AUDIOVOX CORP. for $5 million. AUDIOVOX COMMUNICATIONS CORP. has marketed nearly 10 million Toshiba-made cellular telephones under the Audiovox brand name or private labels since the mid-1980s. It currently handles the Japanese company's first-generation digital CDMA (code-division multiple access) phones, but ACC soon will introduce the CDM4000, which is said to contain the most advanced chipset on the market, a lithium ion battery with extended talk and standby times and data capabilities.
Unable to keep pace with the rapid changes occurring in the wireless industry, KOKUSAI ELECTRIC CO., LTD. liquidated its San Diego, California digital cellular telephone development subsidiary. KOKUSAI COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEMS, INC. was formed in May 1997 from the development unit of KOKUSAI ELECTRIC AMERICA, INC. in El Segundo, California. The shutdown cost Kokusai Electric roughly $6.3 million.
DDI CORP., Japan's number-two long-distance common carrier and a big cellular and PHS (personal handyphone system) services provider, has opened a wholly owned subsidiary in Los Angeles. The company's first solo foreign venture, DDI COMMUNICATIONS AMERICA CORP. hopes to begin facilities-based services in the spring of 2000. It will apply shortly to the Federal Communications Commission for permission to operate. DDI has contracted for capacity on the Pacific Crossing-1 undersea fiber- optic cable network being built by KDD SUBMARINE CABLE SYSTEMS INC., MARUBENI CORP. and GLOBAL CROSSING LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 345, June 1998, p. 7). Its L.A. subsidiary will offer leased private line, frame-relay and other services to Internet services providers and corporate customers.
In a major win, HITACHI TELECOM (USA), INC. is supplying OC-192 equipment to the Frontier Communications unit of FRONTIER CORP. as part of a major capacity increase in the nationwide Frontier Optronics Network. The Rochester, New York carrier is in the process of creating a "network express lane" that will carry data traffic among the company's top 20 markets at a capacity scalable to 1.28 terabits per second. Hitachi's AMN 5192 OC-192 four-fiber bidirectional line switched ring SONET (synchronous optical network) equipment will be incorporated in this backbone. Frontier says that it not only will exponentially expand network capacity but that the network also will be protected against outages, thanks to the four-fiber BLSR configuration of the Hitachi equipment. In the event of a failure, this technology automatically reverses the direction of traffic around the ring in milliseconds.
PIONEER DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES, INC., the San Diego, California product development affiliate of PIONEER ELECTRONIC CORP., is working with SCM MICROSYSTEMS, INC. to develop a new generation of set-top boxes for the cable TV industry. Los Gatos, California-based SCM Microsystems is designing removable security modules that control access to digital information. This so-called point-of-deployment technology will be integrated into Pioneer's OpenCable-compliant digital set-top boxes. While standards-based, POD modules are specific to each CATV operator.
PANASONIC SYSTEM SOLUTIONS CO. has installed a turnkey high-definition TV system at ABC INC.'s affiliate in Denver. Since late 1998, the ABC Television Network has been airing prime-time theatrical presentations in a HDTV format. The broadcasts originate from the network's HDTV Release Center in New York City. PSSC, a Secaucus, New Jersey subsidiary of MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD.'s principal North American operation, built and equipped the broadcast center. It is offering stations owned or affiliated with ABC turnkey HDTV station system packages that consist of prepackaged master control systems and Panasonic AJ-HD2700 videotape recorders.
As expected, BROADCASTING SATELLITE SYSTEM CORP. signed a contract with ORBITAL SCIENCES CORP. to build and launch two direct-to-home TV broadcast satellites (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 351, December 1998, p. 9). BSAT-2a and BSAT-2b, scheduled for launch in 2000 and 2001, respectively, will double the channel capacity of the pair of satellites BSAT now operates, which provide direct broadcast analog TV service to more than 13 million customers across Japan. The new equipment also will mark the start of satellite-based digital direct- broadcast service in the country.
Constantly scrambling to keep up with surging transpacific Internet demand, INTERNET INITIATIVE JAPAN INC. again has added bandwidth between Japan and the United States. The capacity of its Osaka-New York backbone, just expanded last December to 90 megabits per second, now is up to 265 Mbps. That is in addition to IIJ's 200-Mbps link between Tokyo and San Jose, California.
An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.
In an effort to stem the losses of its U.S. operations, SANYO SHOKAI LTD. will end later this spring a five-year arrangement with BURBERRYS LTD. under which SANYO FASHION HOUSE, INC. of New York City markets Burberrys-brand women's casual wear in the United States. Sales of the upscale label have been flat at the wholesale level at about $10 million a year. In the future, Sanyo Fashion House will focus on marketing Sanyo- brand coats, both imported and made by SANYO SEWING AMERICA, INC. in Oneonta, New York.
An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.
The purchase by RENAULT S.A. of a 36.8 percent controlling interest in NISSAN MOTOR CO., LTD. and the French automotive maker's involvement in the management of Japan's struggling number-two car and light truck builder are expected to impact Nissan's North American operations in ways both large and small. One immediate result is the decision not to renew a minivan design, development and production agreement with FORD MOTOR CO. when the 12-year arrangement expires in 2004. The Nissan Quest and its twin, the Mercury Villager, have been built at Ford's Avon Lake, Ohio factory since July 1992 using some parts supplied by Nissan. However, sales of both minivans have been drooping despite a booming U.S. light truck market. In 1998, Nissan sold just 30,500 Quests, while only 38,500 Villagers went out the doors of Lincoln-Mercury dealerships. There is even talk of canceling the contract before 2004 if sales do not improve quickly and dramatically.
Implementing a decision made in the spring of 1998, NISSAN MOTOR CO., LTD. consolidated its American and Mexican parts procurement operations. The move is part of the automotive maker's plan to cut vehicle production costs in North America by $1,800 per unit over the next three years. The integration had no impact on staffing at the two businesses, which together employ about 160 people.
Starting in early 2001, a new subsidiary of KOYO SEIKO CO., LTD. will make energy-efficient power steering systems for American-badged vehicles at a factory near Roanoke, Virginia. KOYO STEERING SYSTEMS OF USA, INC. will invest as much as $37 million in the plant. Within three to five years, it could have 200 people on staff. Koyo Power Steering expects to make systems for 63,000 vehicles in the first year of operation and as many as 800,000 in FY 2003. Since 1990, Koyo Seiko has made power steering systems for Japanese nameplates assembled in the United States through a Vonore, Tennessee joint venture with TRW INC. The factory in southwest Virginia will be its first attempt to supply the Big Three.
Rising U.S. demand for automotive parts made from lighter aluminum has convinced TOYO RADIATOR CO., LTD. to commit $10 million to build a plant in Hopkinsville, Kentucky to produce aluminum radiators and oil coolers for cars and recreational vehicles. Production could begin by mid-2000, with a first-year output of parts for 300,000 vehicles. At full-capacity operations, the facility will employ close to 100 people. Toyo Radiator's COPAR INC. subsidiary, also located in Hopkinsville, has turned out radiators for heavy off-road equipment and industrial use since 1988.
YOKOHAMA RUBBER CO., LTD. is weighing the possibility of manufacturing radial heavy-duty truck and bus tires in the United States to capitalize on strong demand. The heavy-duty truck and bus tires that the company sells here are either imported or made by GTY TIRE CO. in Mount Vernon, Illinois. That firm, in which Yokohama Rubber has a one-third interest, is majority-owned by GENERAL TIRE CO. Wholly owned YOKOHAMA TIRE CORP., acquired in 1989, produces radial car and light truck tires in Salem, Virginia.
In a slight change of plans, the shock absorbers that TOKICO, LTD. supplies to FORD MOTOR CO. for a new sport-utility vehicle set to debut in the spring of 2000 will be in the form of modules. Such units, which the company has not made before, include the shock absorber itself as well as coil springs and the mount that connects the part to the chassis. Brea, Kentucky-based TOKICO (USA), INC. will source the springs and the mounts from Ford-designated suppliers (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 9).
Technology that eliminates the risk of a child being killed or injured when a side-impact airbag deploys is available from the Automotive Electronics Division of Itasca, Illinois-headquartered NEC TECHNOLOGIES, INC. The SeatSentry occupant-sensing system, which uses the electric field generated by antennas mounted in the seat to tell the occupant's size and proximity to the airbag, is based on technology licensed from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The SeatSentry system is standard equipment on HONDA MOTOR CO., LTD.'s 1999 Acura 3.5RL
Extending its manufacturing alliance with HONDA MOTOR CO., LTD.'s U.S. operations, YUTAKA GIKEN CO., LTD. will construct an $11.6 million plant in Lugoff, South Carolina to make parts for all-terrain vehicles built by HONDA OF SOUTH CAROLINA MANUFACTURING, INC. in Timmonsville, South Carolina and for motorcycles produced by HONDA OF AMERICA MANUFACTURING, INC. in Marysville, Ohio. Volume production at SOUTH CAROLINA YUTAKA TECHNOLOGIES INC., which will perform stamping, welding, painting and assembly operations, is scheduled for November. After about a year, the company is expected to employ 100 people. SCYT is projecting sales of $15.8 million in FY 2000 and $18.3 million the following fiscal year. CARDINGTON YUTAKA TECHNOLOGIES, INC. in Cardington, Ohio, which Yutaka Giken and Honda jointly own, supplies torque converters and catalytic converters for all the Hondas and Civics built in the United States.
The second of four JAPAN AIRLINE CO., LTD. 747-300 jetliners that will be modified for international passenger service from a domestic passenger configuration has arrived at BOEING CO.'s Wichita, Kansas modification center. The changes will give JAL the flexibility to configure the plane's passenger seating in four different arrangements to match its needs and the routes flown.
An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.
Roughly $7.8 billion in cash will transform JAPAN TOBACCO INC. into the third-largest global tobacco company with seven of the world's top 20 cigarette brands in its portfolio. This is the price that Japan's dominant cigarette manufacturer is paying for the non-U.S. tobacco operations of RJR NABISCO HOLDINGS CORP. The struggling business, which includes such top-selling brands as Camel, Winston and Salem, trails PHILIP MORRIS INC. and BRITISH AMERICAN TOBACCO PLC internationally. It will continue to do so even with the integration of JT's own overseas operations, concentrated in East Asia with some presence in the United States, with those of R.J. REYNOLDS INTERNATIONAL B.V. That 15,000- employee company markets in more than 70 countries and has 22 factories in 18 nations. It had sales of $3.1 billion in 1998 versus $30 billion in FY 1997 for JT, the maker of Mild Seven, the second most popular cigarette brand worldwide. The deal is a complement to RJR Nabisco Holdings' plan to separate its domestic tobacco business from its food business. JT is financing the $7.8 billion purchase, the largest ever made by a Japanese company, with $2.8 billion of its own money, supplemented by a $5 billion global syndicated loan led by CITIBANK N.A. It also is assuming $200 million in R.J. Reynolds International debt. Analysts had expected the buyer of the international operations to pay between $6 billion and $6.6 billion.
The first grand piano built by YAMAHA CORP. at its Thomaston, Georgia plant will come off the line in June. Keyboards, strings and other interior parts for the French Provincial-style GH1FP will be imported from Japan, but the cherry wood for the exterior veneer will be sourced in the United States. YAMAHA MUSIC MANUFACTURING, INC., which has been in business since 1980, turns out about 50 different models of pianos, including various finishes, sizes and wood veneers. It expects to build 300 grand pianos in the first year of production of this model.
Through its Portland, Oregon subsidiary, outdoor products manufacturer SNOW PEAK CO., LTD. has arranged to sell some 60 products through RECREATIONAL EQUIPMENT, INC., the Seattle-headquarter-ed operator of a nationwide chain of stores featuring products for the outdoors. The Niigata prefecture company believes that the REI deal will produce revenues of $833,300 in the first year and 10 times that amount after five years. In time, Snow Peak hopes that its camping gear, cookware and other products will be available at some 500 U.S. specialty stores.
The Lake Success, New York marketing subsidiary of CANON INC. has introduced special transfer paper that enables users to imprint digital artwork and photographs on such surfaces as ceramic tile, stone, wood, glass, metal, fabric and paper without all the hassles of alternative methods. With the Transfer Replication Media, the process can be as straightforward as using a copier to transfer the image to the paper and then a heat press and a laminating machine to affix it. Canon has priced the paper at $490 for a box of 50 sheets.
A $3 million contract from NUCLEAR ASSURANCE CORP. INTERNATIONAL for three containers to haul spent nuclear fuel has opened a new business in the United States for HITACHI ZOSEN CORP. The containers, designed for trailer transport, will each have a 1,100-pound capacity. They are scheduled for delivery to Norcross, Georgia-based NAC International in April 2000. Hitachi Zosen hopes to parlay this order into more business with NAC International and other companies that transport nuclear waste.
MIECO INC. and GATX TERMINALS CORP. have formed a partnership that has taken over the petroleum blending and distribution business of the wholly owned MARUBENI CORP. company. GATX PRODUCT SERVICES LP, headquartered in Houston, provides such services as throughput, blending, supply and exchanges to refiners, with a geographic focus east of the Rocky Mountains. GATX Product Services began operations with approximately 8 million barrels of storage in Houston, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, New York and the Midwest. The company expects to handle roughly 140 million barrels of petroleum products a year. The other businesses of Long Beach, California-based MIECO, established in 1984, are a petroleum trading operation focused on the West Coast and Pacific Rim markets, a terminal operation in Mississippi and a petroleum products marketing operation in New Jersey.
After three straight years of red ink, TOIN CORP. has decided to pull the plug in March 2000 on its U.S. operations. The company has had a plant in Livingston, Alabama since 1986 that prints labels and cartons. Its sales unit is located in Atlanta. Toin blamed the decision on the loss of orders from fellow Japanese companies operating in the United States. The company hopes to sell the business; if unsuccessful, it will be liquidated.
As part of a corporate restructuring plan, gas and water meter maker KIMMON MANUFACTURING CO., LTD. will liquidate its Fort Worth, Texas subsidiary by March 2000 as well as close a German manufacturing facility and four of its 10 plants in Japan. KIMMON QUARTZ LTD., opened in 1990, makes quartz glassware for the semiconductor industry.
An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.
To speed the clinical development of products for the Japanese marketplace, ELI LILLY AND CO. will form an equally owned company with CHUGAI PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD., one of Japan's top pharmaceutical manufacturers and a company with which Lilly has worked since 1995. Tokyo-based CHUGAI LILLY CLINICAL RESEARCH CO., LTD. will be staffed mainly by Chugai Pharmaceutical personnel, with the Indianapolis partner providing the majority of the development funding. It will focus initially on the development of three compounds: Prozac, the world's most widely prescribed brand-name antidepressant; MDR, which currently is being evaluated for its ability to enhance or sustain the effects of chemotherapy and the reversal of drug resistance; and tomoxetine, a candidate for the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. In exchange for its help, Chugai Pharmaceutical will gain certain Japan copromotion and comarketing rights to products developed by the joint venture. Lilly said that it decided to tie up with Chugai Pharmaceutical because it has more new products in its pipeline than the company's Kobe subsidiary can develop in a timely manner. ELI LILLY JAPAN K.K., which employs 820 people and has nearly doubled in size over the past seven years, is strongest in treatments for diabetes, growth hormone deficiency, central nervous system diseases and infectious diseases.
JANSSEN-KYOWA CO., LTD., a Tokyo-based partnership between JOHNSON & JOHNSON and KYOWA HAKKO KOGYO CO., LTD., plans to apply this year to the Ministry of Health and Welfare for marketing approval for several products. One is the fentanyl patch, which uses a synthetic morphine substitute to deliver up to 72 hours of pain relief to cancer patients. An oral contraceptive and an allergy medication also are on the list. In anticipation of these and other products going on the market, Janssen- Kyowa will spend close to $8.3 million on information technology to better support its 350 sales representatives. Each, for example, will receive a notebook PC.
IDEC PHARMACEUTICALS CORP. has awarded Asian and European development and marketing rights to a treatment for asthma and other allergy-related problems to the team of SEIKAGAKU CORP. and TAISHO PHARMACEUTICALS CO., LTD. The San Diego, California company's anti- CD23 suppresses allergy symptoms by bonding with CD23, which regulates the production of symptom-causing IgE immunoglobulin. IDEC, which plans to launch clinical trials of anti-CD23 in the second half of this year, and Seikagaku have had a research and marketing tie-up since 1994.
With Tokyo promising to ease the regulation of nutritional supplements, REXALL SUNDOWN, INC. believes that the time is right to make a major push into the Japanese market. The Boca Raton, Florida manufacturer has contracted with ROHTO PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. to market an exclusive line of products under the Thompson brand name through both drugstores and mail order. The first Rexall Sundown supplement to be introduced is Flex Power, designed to promote cartilage regeneration and healthy joints.
MHW has approved once-a-day Xalatan Sterile Ophthalmic Solution, a PHARMACIA & UPJOHN, INC. product, for the treatment of glaucoma and ocular hypertension (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 354, March 1999, p. 13). Japan is the world's second-largest glaucoma market, but only 20 percent of all glaucoma patients receive medical care. In preparation for the launch of Xalatan, P&U's subsidiary more than tripled its ophthalmology sales force to 180 people.
SUMITOMO 3M LTD. is projecting first-year sales of $1.7 million for a fluorochemical coating developed by MINNESOTA MINING & MANUFACTURING CO. Through dipping or other means of application, the 3M Fluorad fluorochemical coating FC-732 produces a clear, even, quick-drying film approximately 0.5 micron to 1 micron thick on copper, aluminum, steel, tin or glass. Solvents and liquids having low surface-tension values bead and drain freely from surfaces coated with the film. Sumitomo 3M has priced FC-732 at roughly $135 per pound.
An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.
Following in its parent's footsteps, HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. will create two independent companies by June 2000. One, which will retain the HP Japan name, will include the firm's enterprise computing systems, PC, printing and imaging, and software and services businesses. The other, unnamed company will comprise HP Japan's current test and measurement, components, chemical analysis and medical businesses. Worldwide, the latter group of operations represented $7.6 billion of HEWLETT-PACKARD CO.'s total revenues of $47.1 billion in FY 1998. YOKOGAWA ELECTRIC CORP., which owns 25 percent of HP Japan, expects to have the same interest in each of the new companies.
In a rare local win for the American supercomputer industry leader, SILICON GRAPHICS, INC. has sold a high-performance computing system to the engineering department of Yokohama National University for use in its work on transforming photographs into three-dimensional graphics. The system is anchored by a 48-processor version of the scalar SGI Origin 2000 supercomputer and a Silicon Graphics Onyx2 Unix workstation and is linked by an ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) LAN (local area network) that transfers data at the rate of 622 megabits per second. .....Meanwhile, SILICON GRAPHICS, INC.'s subsidiary has set the ambitious goal of doubling its supercomputer sales to $166.7 million in 2000. To help reach this target, the company formed a division April 1 that is in charge of sales, service and support for both scalar systems (the SGI Origin 2000) and traditional vector supercomputers (Cray SV1, Cray T3E and Cray T90), the specialty of the former CRAY RESEARCH, INC., which SGI acquired in 1997.
Sales have started of a COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. server designed to work with the Value Mail corporate e-mail service offered by cellular phone giant NTT MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK, INC. The servers, which come with NTT DoCoMo software preinstalled, are tied into the company LAN. Mobile employees can connect with the server via their cell phones to send or receive e-mail over the Internet. By adapting the server to other companies' requirements, Compaq believes that it can sell close to 10,000 units over three years. The configuration for NTT DoCoMo costs around $8,200.
The Gifu prefectural government has contracted with the subsidiary of ELECTRONIC DATA SYSTEMS CORP. to handle the information technology operations of two projects in this field that it is running. EDS also will work with officials to review the full range of the local government's IT requirements, focusing in particular on how to achieve cost reductions. Late last year, EDS launched a major push to win more IT outsourcing contracts from corporate Japan (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 351, December 1998, p. 11).
IBM JAPAN LTD. continues to find new business opportunities in the problems of Japanese financial services providers. Among the latest examples is its decision to form a company with DAI-ICHI SECURITIES CO., LTD. that will take over many of the back-office IT functions now performed by an affiliate of the midsized broker. IBM Japan will put up just 9.5 percent of the venture's capital, but it will bring to the operation its considerable information systems and services expertise. In time, the new company, which had an April 1 start date, hopes to win outsourcing contracts from other businesses trying to cut costs.
Sometimes, local financial services providers seek IBM JAPAN LTD.'s expertise to give them a better chance of capitalizing on the new business opportunities that deregulation is creating. For instance, NIPPON LIFE INSURANCE CO., Japan's top manager of corporate pension funds, got the company to participate in a joint venture that will be established July 1 to develop systems for managing corporate pensions. This move is keyed to the introduction before March 2001 of 401(k)-type or defined contribution pension plans, although NISSAY INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY CO., LTD. also has its eye on traditional defined benefit plans. Nippon Life and its affiliates will own 90 percent of the new company. The top life insurer also will transfer its information systems development operations to Nissay Information Technology. IBM Japan will have a 5 percent in the joint venture, with the remaining 5 percent split equally between HITACHI, LTD. and INTEC INC.
COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary has signed up a second Compaq Channel Configuration Program partner. SANTEC CORP. joins OTSUKA SHOKAI CO., LTD. in configuring Compaq's Deskpro line of corporate desktop PCs to buyers' specifications. The Okayama prefecture wholesaler of computer peripherals expects to build to order 6,000 Deskpros in its first year as a CCP partner. Compaq hopes that the tie-up with Santec will give a lift to Deskpro sales in western Japan.
In an initiative designed to expand sales of PC servers and workstations, the subsidiary of direct marketer DELL COMPUTER CORP. has contracted with UNIADEX LTD. to provide service and support to corporate customers. The wholly owned unit of NIHON UNISYS, LTD. promises next-business-day service for Dell's PowerEdge and PowerVault servers. At the same time, Dell plans to extend its own four-hour repair service to areas beyond Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya and to additional products.
With the incorporation of the 300-MHz MIPS R12000 64-bit RISC processor into the midrange Silicon Graphics Octane visual workstation line, SILICON GRAPHICS, INC.'s local operation is giving Unix customers up to 35 percent better performance over an Octane powered by a 250-MHz R10000 chip at no additional cost. The base price of $29,500 buys 128 MB of main memory, 2 MB of secondary cache, 4 GB of hard disk storage, a 20- inch monitor and a keyboard.
HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. is offering a discounted package to Unix supporters interested in building large (up to 500 users) intranets. It has bundled NETSCAPE COMMUNICATIONS CORP.'s SuiteSpot 3.5.1 Plus and other intranet-construction middleware with the HP 9000 Enterprise Server Model A180i for just $6,200. The company estimates that buying the hardware and the software separately would cost roughly $12,500. Given this saving, HP Japan thinks that it can sell 2,000 Model A180i systems over 12 months.
DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary has taken two steps recently to boost sales of its Precision WorkStation line, which is optimized for demanding two-dimensional, 3D or data-intensive applications. It released a Precision Workstation 410 with Maya 3D software preinstalled. Maya, an ALIAS|WAVEFRONT INC. product, is designed for character animation and effects. The deal marks the first time that Dell has engaged in this type of bundling for the Japanese market. The company also is offering INTERGRAPH CORP.'s Intense 3D Wildcat 4000 graphics accelerator as an option with all Precision WorkStation models for customers specializing in computer-aided design, animation and software development. A minimally configured Precision WorkStation 410 with a 450-MHz Pentium III processor and an Intense 3D accelerator costs about $4,900.
Software developers, design engineers and other customers that require maximum processor and graphics performance also have some new hardware-based options thanks to the release of the 500-MHz and 550- MHz Pentium Xeon III processor. These engines are available in HEWLETT- PACKARD JAPAN LTD.'s HP Kayak XU PC Workstation, for instance. Pricing begins at $7,500 for a system with a 500-MHz chip, 128 MB of synchronous DRAM memory, a 9.1-GB hard disk drive and a Matrox Millennium G200 AGP video card.
A 500-MHz version of this processor also powers the value-priced Aquanta E2000 Series of enterprise-class servers from UNISYS CORP.'s subsidiary. Four models are on the market, including two-way and four- way configurations. The entry-level quad-processor tower server starts at $15,400, while a higher-end four-processor tower model goes from $25,800.
The availability of the 500-MHz Pentium III processor sparked a flood of server introductions featuring the performance-enhancing processor. The part shows up in three models of COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s ProLiant family. They start with the $4,000-and-up ProLiant 800 workgroup server for file/print, remote access, e-mail or small data base applications and include the high-end ProLiant 1600 workgroup server, which features improved data base and Web-serving capabilities at prices from $5,700, and the ProLiant 3000, described as the world's best-selling departmental server; its pricing begins at $7,500.
DELL COMPUTER CORP. also took advantage of the 500-MHz Pentium III processor and its 450-MHz mate to boost the power of its workgroup and departmental PowerEdge servers. Only about $2,300 buys the PowerEdge 1300 workgroup server for small and midsize businesses. The PowerEdge 2300, priced from $3,100, is designed to bring departmental-level availability and scalability to small businesses and remote sites in a workgroup server. Medium and large companies can harness the power of the new Pentium III chips in the PowerEdge 4300 for $4,100 and up to run file/print-sharing, e-mail and data base applications. The prices of the PowerEdge 2300 and 4300 include 2 GB of system memory versus the previously standard 1 GB.
Support for the 500-MHz Pentium III processor is available as well in various HP NetServer models from HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. They are the HP NetServer LC 3 workgroup server, which lists for as little as $7,400; the $7,700-and-up rack-mounted HP NetServer LPr; and a pair of departmental servers the HP NetServer LH 3 (tower) and HP NetServer LH 3r (rack-mounted) that cost $11,400-plus. These models also incorporate new reliability features, including what is claimed to be the world's first one-button disaster-recovery tape backup device.
The steady advance of microprocessor technology is bringing ever more power to the desktop. In fact, GATEWAY 2000, INC. is offering software developers and people working with 3D graphics the 500-MHz Pentium III Xeon chip in the GX-500 for a starting price of just $4,400.
The performance enhancements of the 500-MHz Pentium III also have come to the mainstream corporate computer market. The Deskpro EN and Deskpro EP families of PCs from COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary sport this processor, which is designed to handle MICROSOFT CORP.'s forthcoming Windows 2000 operating system as well as its current Windows NT technology and to provide additional processing power and improved floating-point performance for such applications as CAD/CAM (computer- aided design and manufacturing), desktop publishing, speech recognition and videoconferencing. .....The GATEWAY 2000, INC. desktop PC launch model in Japan for the 500-MHz Pentium III was the E-3200, part of the company's series of managed PCs.
HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. has overhauled its line of HP Vectra business PCs, harnessing not only the power of the 500-MHz Pentium III processor in some models but also offering new, flexible form factors and an easy-access chassis. These are common features of the HP Vectra VL family, which is available as a compact design that is about half the size of a conventional desktop PC, a minitower that can expand to six slots and shelves and a model with what is called 4 x 4 expandability. The HP Vectra VLi line of managed PCs also supports the new Pentium processor and offers a choice of three different packages. Going one step further, HP Japan released the HP Vectra VEi, a Pentium III-capable series for deployment in managed environments that is value-priced from $1,600.
In its latest attempt to attract the budget-conscious buyer, whether business professional or individual, DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary released a pair of desktop machines that use the latest Celeron processor, which operates at 433 MHz. The OptiPlex G1 C433 is aimed at the corporate market. It comes with 32 MB of internal memory, a 4.3-GB hard drive and a 15-inch monitor for $1,200. The same price buys the home- oriented Dimension V433c, but it features 64 MB of RAM and 6.4 GB of storage.
COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. has joined the ranks of companies marketing palm-size devices that run off the localized version of Windows CE for the Palm-size PC Version 1.2. Its Japan-only Presario 213 Color Palm-Size PC, which weighs 9.1 ounces, features 16 MB of internal memory, an active-matrix color display with a resolution of 240 x 320, 10 hours of continuous battery use and one-hand operability. The street price is estimated at less than $660.
One of the biggest names in automatic teller machines, NCR CORP., is teaming with FUJI BANK, LTD. to develop the first cash dispenser in Japan that can remit bill payments. Designed to link with companies' servers, the machine will be based on NCR JAPAN, LTD.'s existing S70 system, which uses the Windows NT operating system.
The SPARCengine CP family of single-slot CompactPCI (peripheral component interconnect) boards, used in cutting-edge communications and industrial equipment, has three new members: the highly scalable CP 1500 running at 425 MHz or 360 MHz and the highly integrated, aggressively priced CP 1400 operating at 300 MHz. The boards combine SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC.'s latest UltraSPARC-IIi 64-bit processor technology, which features integrated memory and PCI input/output functionality, with its Solaris 7 64-bit operating system. That makes the SPARCengine CP line the only 64 x 64-bit CompactPCI series on the market. Sun's subsidiary has priced the 300-MHz CP1400 at $2,500 in volume.
With electronic commerce taking hold in Japan, COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary expects to sell annually 1,000 Atara Trustmaster CSP expansion boards for PC servers. This product is claimed to be the first in the world to incorporate all the functions required for encryption into a CompactPCI board. By transferring the encryption process to the board, Compaq says, not only is a higher level of data protection provided than with software-based solutions, but a source of performance degradation is removed from the server. The Atara Trustmaster CSP board, which provides 40 bits of encryption technology, lists for $10,400.
Another firm believer in the benefits of hardware-based security protection is SONIC SYSTEMS, INC. It added to its Japan lineup two members of the SonicWALL family. These products protect Internet- connected businesses from hackers and intruders as well as prevent employees from accessing objectionable Web sites and newsgroups through content filtering. The Santa Clara, California company named FORVAL CREATIVE, INC. to market the SonicWALL/10, which supports 10 nodes on a small company's LAN. Sonic Systems also tapped MARUBENI SOLUTIONS CORP. to distribute this product as well as the new SonicWALL PRO, an Internet security appliance for branch offices and large, single- site networks. The SonicWALL/10 costs $1,200, while the SonicWALL PRO lists for $5,400. MITSUBISHI CORP. handles other Sonic Systems products (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 343, April 1998, p. 10).
QUANTUM CORP., the top maker of hard disk drives for desktop PCs, has enlisted the help of a powerful partner, MITSUI & CO., LTD. The trader will focus its marketing efforts on retailers, while the Milpitas, California company's subsidiary will continue direct sales of drives to local PC manufacturers on an OEM basis. Quantum drives are used in about 20 percent of all Japanese-built desktop machines. Mitsui, which is handling digital linear tapes and other products in addition to hard drives, sees its tie-up with Quantum developing into a $25 million business the first year and an $83.3 million activity in the third year. Paralleling an effort underway with MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD., Quantum plans to work with Mitsui on the development of consumer electronics products with digital storage technology so that, for example, a TV set equipped with a hard drive can show programs on demand.
Managers of data centers in Japan soon will have an integrated hardware/software solution to help them not only cope with the challenges presented by the explosion of enterprise information but also exploit all their available processing and information resources. The EMC Connectrix Enterprise Storage Network system from the subsidiary of Hopkinton, Massachusetts-based EMC CORP. provides extremely fast access and data transfers among any combination of supported servers and EMC Enterprise systems connected to it via Fibre Channel connections. Moreover, by off-loading data transfer and information-sharing from the network, the EMC Connectrix ESN system also allows servers to do their main jobs more effectively. The actual EMC Connectrix system houses either one or two Fibre Channel directors supporting up to 64 Fibre Channel ports, a service processor, connectivity management application software and a cable management system. It supports both Windows NT and Sun Solaris platforms. The 16-port version of the modular, scalable system, the smallest configuration available, costs $416,700.
An alternative Fibre Channel-based means of efficiently managing enterprise storage requirements is available from COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary in the form of the StorageWorks RAID Array 8000 and the StorageWorks Enterprise Storage Array 12000. The RA 8000, which starts at $34,200, can scale to as much as 1.3 terabytes of capacity in a single subsystem with 18-GB StorageWorks drives and a maximum of 72 disks enclosed in three 24-disk cabinets. For its part, the ESA 12000, designed for high-capacity, high-transaction applications or for high- bandwidth applications, holds up to 48 18-GB StorageWorks drives in its data center cabinet, with each pair of controllers supporting up to 72 drives in additional cabinets. Its starting price is $58,300. Both products enable multihost support for most platforms, including Windows NT, OpenVMS and Tru64 Unix (the successor to the 64-bit Digital Unix).
STORAGE TECHNOLOGY CORP. is similarly touting the speed, capacity and access of its open-enterprise 9840 tape drive. Each cartridge holds up to 20 GB of data uncompressed and, typically, 80 GB with compression. The 9840 also moves compressed data at up to 20 MB per second and features an average search time of 8 seconds. The subsidiary of the Louisville, Colorado network storage manufacturer has priced the 9840 with Ultra SCSI (small computer system interface) connectivity at $43,300 and the ESCON version at $54,200.
A localized version of the high-capacity, external Zip drive for Universal Serial Bus-interface machines like the iMac from APPLE COMPUTER, INC. is available from IOMEGA CORP. distributors. This product offers improved data backup compared with the original English-language version as well as audio recording/playback functions. The new version of the USB Zip drive is free to buyers of the English version.
Users of the iMac and other USB-based Macintosh computers from APPLE COMPUTER, INC. also have two new printer options from HEWLETT- PACKARD JAPAN LTD. The HP DeskJet 880C, designed for the home user, prints up to 8 pages per minute in black and 5 ppm in color. The HP DeskJet 895Cxi Professional Series printer, targeted at the SOHO market, outputs as many as 10 ppm in black and 6 ppm in color. It is the fastest DeskJet printer that HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. makes.
An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.
KELLOGG BROWN & ROOT, one of the biggest international engineering and construction companies, will help CHIYODA CORP. restructure its operations. Japan's number-two plant engineering firm also ranks among the world's 10 largest engineering and construction businesses, but it is bleeding red ink because of unprofitable overseas projects, particularly in Asia. KBR, a unit of HALLIBURTON CO., will indirectly acquire a 6.45 percent equity interest in Chiyoda through a company to be formed with MITSUBISHI CORP. The trader, which was instrumental in gaining KBR's agreement to help Chiyoda, also will increase its stake by 6.45 percent. The American company's assistance will not be limited to bolstering Chiyoda's capital. KBR reportedly will take an active role in management as well as provide project support. Once the deal with Chiyoda is finalized, the Dallas company could have ties to all three of Japan's top plant engineering firms since it already cooperates with TOYO ENGINEERING CORP. on ammonia plants and is talking to JGC CORP. about working together on liquefied natural gas projects. Mitsubishi and KBR have a long-standing relationship that includes the trader's ownership of 40 percent of KBR DEVELOPMENT CORP.
Extending its already considerable operations in Japan, KENNEDY-WILSON, INC., an international real estate investment, marketing and property management firm, has agreed to form a joint venture with the office building management unit of NIPPON CREDIT BANK, LTD. Through this arrangement, the Los Angeles company will assist in the management of roughly 20 buildings currently managed by NIPPON JISHO CO., LTD. It also will continue to manage properties in Japan that it owns as well as third- party properties. Kennedy-Wilson and its new partner view the introduction of American-style property management techniques as essential as foreign companies invest more aggressively in Japan and the securitization of real estate assets increases.
A year later than anticipated, work has started on Japan's first Sleep Inn, the limited-service, affordably priced hotel brand franchised by CHOICE HOTELS INTERNATIONAL, INC. The $5 million 10-story, 110-room hotel in Fukuyama, Hiroshima prefecture is being developed in a tie-up with VESSEL CO., LTD., also located in Fukuyama, under an arrangement concluded in September 1997.
For reasons that were not given, PACIFIC HOUSING MATERIALS & DESIGN INC. of Bellevue, Washington pulled out of a company formed in 1996 with a Japanese partner to set up one-stop supply centers for builders of American-style homes. The idea behind the Saitama prefecture-based joint venture was intriguing: opening miniwarehouses that not only would stock building materials for 2 x 4 housing but also would have architects on staff who could produce working drawings in Japanese that met domestic regulations. The recession and lagging housing starts might have influenced PHMD's decision to end its involvement.
An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.
With demand expanding for its LightCaster microdisplay panels in consumer electronics products, DISPLAYTECH, INC. has decided to tap the manufacturing expertise of MIYOTA CO., LTD. to boost volume. The Longmont, Colorado company's ferroelectric liquid crystal display technology is said to produce images of unmatched clarity, color and intensity in a lightweight package that is inexpensive to manufacture. Nagano-based Miyota will install a production line dedicated to LightCaster microdisplays, all of which will be sold by Displaytech. That company will continue to make the product, as will HEWLETT-PACKARD CO., currently the main source of the FLC microdisplay. Once the Miyota line is up and running, it will become the volume supplier.
AMERICAN TECHNOLOGY CORP. is negotiating with two companies to license its sound technology. SANYO TECHNOSOUND CO., LTD. is interested in the San Diego, California firm's Stratified Field Technology. This thin- panel, loudspeaker transducer technology eliminates the "speaker box," making it ideal for products that benefit from physically flat or uniquely shaped loudspeakers that deliver quality sound. AKAI ELECTRIC CO., LTD. is weighing this technology as well as ATC's HyperSonic Sound Technology. HSS is a new process that employs ultrasonic tones to produce sound directly in the air. That capability is said to eliminate many forms of distortion and to reduce room acoustical effects as well as to create sound applications not possible with existing speaker technology.
With semiconductor makers scheduled to begin volume shipments this year of RAMBUS INC.'s high-bandwidth Direct RDRAM, the subsidiary of big connector maker MOLEX INC. has put on the market Direct Rambus RIMM socket connectors. The Lisle, Illinois company's 184-circuit, 1- millimeter-pitch product provides transmission speeds of 800 MHz and 1.6 GB per second of peak bandwidth.
The subsidiary of Andover, Massachusetts-head-quartered VICOR CORP., the largest merchant manufacturer of high-density power components, is projecting first-year sales of $5 million for its MultiPAC family of semicustom switches for industrial use. These products are designed for such applications as semiconductor production equipment and test equipment. Vicor's marketing unit was formed last summer after the company bought most of the assets of the power supply business of JAPAN TOBACCO INC., which had become Vicor's exclusive manufacturing and marketing licensee in Japan in 1995 (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 346, July 1998, p. 14).
An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.
The rush of American money managers into Japan is taking on stampede- like characteristics. Among the latest companies hoping to serve the nation's big institutional investment market or to tap into its vast pool of personal savings or both is BLACKROCK, INC. The New York City asset management arm of PNC BANK CORP. is forming an equally owned venture with NOMURA ASSET MANAGEMENT CO., LTD. to develop and distribute U.S. investment-grade fixed-income asset management services and investment trusts (Japanese-style mutual funds). Tokyo-based NOMURA BLACKROCK ASSET MANAGEMENT CO., LTD. expects to operational by July 1. It represents the first transpacific pairing of asset management companies. However, Nomura Asset Management, Japan's top asset manager with $128.3 billion in its hands as of last December, and BlackRock, which managed $131 billion at yearend 1998, are not strangers. Since 1997, they have codeveloped and marketed three investment trusts for Japanese investors, attracting investments of approximately $1.3 billion.
Other arrangements give American investment managers already in Japan access to a broader range of investors. Such is true of FRANK RUSSELL CO.'s alliance with BANK OF TOKYO-MITSUBISHI, LTD. in the investment trust business. The Tacoma, Washington-headquartered subsidiary of NORTHWESTERN MUTUAL LIFE INSURANCE CO., which has more than $40 billion in assets under management, specializes in what are called multimanager funds. These funds provide a complementary mix of money managers, which can enhance diversification and reduce risk a potentially key selling point for Japan's legions of novice individual investors. BTM, the country's biggest bank, will distribute the funds, tailoring portfolios to its clients' investment objectives and risk tolerance. Frank Russell will provide the underlying multimanager investment products for the program, which is scheduled for launch in the summer.
Boston's LPL FINANCIAL SERVICES, which bills itself as the leading independent brokerage firm in the United States with no proprietary investment products, reportedly is exploring the possibility of moving into Japan. If it does, informed sources say that the company will contract initially with some 250 independent financial planners to sell anywhere between 100 and 200 investment trust products starting in the latter part of 1999.
DAI-ICHI KANGYO J.P. MORGAN INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT CO., LTD. will begin operations in May. One of the first transpacific alliances to be announced (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 350, November 1998, p. 17), the equally owned Tokyo company brings together J.P. MORGAN INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, INC., the investment management unit of bank holding company J.P. MORGAN & CO., INC., and the DAI-ICHI KANGYO ASAHI ASSET MANAGEMENT CO., LTD. subsidiary of DAI-ICHI KANGYO BANK, LTD. The new venture will draw on J.P. Morgan Investment Management's global financial management expertise and technology, the domestic asset management know-how of its partner and the broad customer base of DKB to develop and market cobranded investment trust products to retail investors.
Extending an existing relationship, HIGHMARK CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, INC. will help to manage the U.S. equities making up an investment trust that TOKYO-MITSUBISHI ASSET MANAGEMENT, LTD. will offer to clients. The Los Angeles company, which manages money for institutional investors and high net-worth individuals, already advises TMAM on U.S. equity allocations for its pension-fund investments. HighMark Capital Management is a wholly owned subsidiary of UNIONBANCAL CORP. The latter, in turn, is majority-owned by BANK OF TOKYO-MITSUBISHI, LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 354, March 1999, p. 6).
The expertise that STATE STREET BANK & TRUST CO. has developed in managing 401(k) pension plans in the United States will be available to a company that a consortium of Japanese financial institutions plans to set up to manage defined-contribution pension plans when Tokyo allows this type of retirement vehicle, most likely in FY 2000. The Boston- headquartered bank originally expected to tie up on 401(k)-style plans with SAKURA BANK, LTD. and three other financial institutions belonging to the Mitsui Group. However, these firms decided to join a defined- contribution pension business being organized by INDUSTRIAL BANK OF JAPAN, LTD. and NOMURA SECURITIES CO., LTD. State Street has opted to follow suit.
Confident or adventuresome Japanese investors will be able to trade on- line starting in mid-June. That is when DLJDIRECT SFG SECURITIES INC. will begin operations (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 351, December 1998, p. 16). Owned by DLJDIRECT INC. (50 percent), the on-line brokerage subsidiary of DONALDSON, LUFKIN & JENRETTE INC., SUMITOMO BANK, LTD. (30 percent) and six other companies with which the Japanese commercial bank has ties, the joint venture initially will offer Internet trading of stocks listed on the Tokyo and Osaka Stock Exchanges, over-the-counter stocks and money market funds. Mutual funds and access to American and European markets will be available in the future, as will a broader range of research and other background information. DLJdirect SFG will charge no fees to open an account. OTC commissions will be discounted 60 percent. Commissions on other trades will be competitive with those charged by the rest of the industry when these fees are deregulated in the fall.
Japan's number-three securities house is among the other companies that are eyeing the on-line brokerage business. NIKKO SECURITIES CO., LTD. is in talks with ADVISORTECH CORP., a San Francisco-based start-up that provides back-office support for Internet trading, to form a company in the fall. As currently envisioned, the joint venture initially would offer trading in about 100 domestic stocks and investment trusts. It also would provide real-time stock quotes and investment trust ratings.
Convinced that Japan offers some extremely attractive investment opportunities, venture capitalist E.M. WARBURG, PINCUS & CO. expects to invest as much as $1 billion in 10 to 15 Japanese companies over the next three to five years. The targets span start-ups raising money and publicly traded companies in need of capital. By taking an active role in the management of the companies in which it invests, the Manhattan firm hopes to generate an average annual rate of 30 percent of so.
Another New York City-based venture capital firm sees money to be made by buying businesses from restructuring Japanese companies. PATRICOF & CO. VENTURES, INC. has joined forces with fellow independent venture capitalist GLOBIS CORP. of Tokyo to form APAX GLOBIS PARTNERS to participate in the buyout market that is emerging in Japan. The joint venture already is raising money from investors in Japan with the goal of having $125 million on hand at the start. At the same time, it is searching for companies in which to invest.
For a reported $105 million, YASUDA FIRE & MARINE INSURANCE CO., LTD. increased its stake in INA HIMAWARI LIFE INSURANCE CO., LTD. to 39 percent from the 10 percent that it had owned since 1993. CIGNA CORP. remains the majority owner of its life insurance subsidiary. The two companies described the transaction as a way to further strengthen their longtime relationship. CIGNA spokespeople added that the big Philadelphia employee benefits organization is committed to expanding its presence in Japan's life insurance market. Late last year, CIGNA and Yasuda Fire & Marine announced their intention to set up an equally owned company this spring to market pension and investment products (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 352, January 1999, p. 15).
In June, CHIYODA MUTUAL LIFE INSURANCE CO. will set up a company to market UNUM CORP.'s long-term disability policies to corporate Japan along with its own life insurance products. The struggling insurer reportedly will receive half of the premium income from the sale of the Portland, Maine company's polices to businesses. Chiyoda Mutual Life's huge sales force will continue to market Unum's income-indemnity products to individual customers. The two insurers announced a tie-up in the spring of 1998 (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 344, May 1998, p. 14).
Going solo for the first time in Japan, ALLSTATE INSURANCE CO. is selling car insurance in Miyagi prefecture. Until November 1997, the big property and casualty insurer had a joint venture with the Seibu Group that sold nonlife products. It formed its own operation in early 1998. Rather than open an office in Mi-yagi, ALLSTATE PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INSURANCE JAPAN CO., LTD. is marketing the automobile policies by phone, discounting premiums by as much as 40 percent from what its competitors charge.
The New York Stock Exchange has opened an office in Tokyo, its first in Asia and just its second overseas. A primary reason for the move is to encourage more companies in Japan and elsewhere in Asia to list their shares on the Big Board. At virtually the same time, NYSE officials said that the exchange would form a working group with a threatened Tokyo Stock Exchange to explore how the two could bolster their long relationship. Within days of these announcements, the Chicago Board of Trade disclosed that it would close its Asian Pacific regional office in Tokyo at the end of May. The office was opened in 1987. Spokespeople linked the decision to the CBOT's own restructuring efforts and to the conclusion that Japanese investments in the financial and commodity futures traded on the board had leveled off.
An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.
In its first international licensing arrangement, HORIZON ORGANIC DAIRY, the top U.S. producer of branded organic milk, has agreed with TAKANASHI MILK PRODUCTS, LTD. to cobrand organic dairy products for the local market. Until Japanese dairy farmers are certified to produce organic milk, the Longmont, Colorado company will ship organic dairy ingredients to its Yokohama partner. The first product Takanashi Milk Products will make is a line of organic yogurt. Although available initially just in the metropolitan Tokyo area, sales could total $1.8 million in the first year, the company estimates. The agreement formalizes a relationship that began last year when Horizon Organic, which has its own farms as well as a national network of organic milk producers, processors and distributors, started to provide technical advice to Takanashi Milk Products' suppliers to help them convert to organic agriculture.
Fruit-flavored frozen milk drinks seem to be catching on in Japan. SUNKIST GROWERS, INC. is the second big American company in recent months to have its smoothie mixes on store shelves. MORINAGA MILK INDUSTRY CO., LTD. is distributing two varieties: Sunkist Smoothie Blueberry Mix and Sunkist Smoothie Peach Mix.
An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.
Two big-name operators of superstores have restructured the ownership of their Japanese operations but in different directions. For its part, OFFICE DEPOT, INC. bought out equal partner DEODEO CORP. for approximately $28 million. The two formed a joint venture in 1996 to open a chain of discount office supply stores. Three Office Depots currently are in operation in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Another three are expected to open in the region during 1999. Office Depot also has three delivery centers in Japan. In part because of the buyout of DeoDeo's shares, Delray Beach, Florida-headquartered Office Depot expects to take a pretax write- off of $15 million to $20 million in the second quarter. It also is projecting a loss of $25 million to $30 million pretax on its Japanese operations in 1999. The pending write-off also is attributable to the planned consolidation of the Office Depot and the VIKING OFFICE PRODUCTS INC. businesses in Japan. The world's largest seller of office products acquired the big discount office products catalog seller last year. Viking, which moved into Japan right before the takeover, was scheduled to launch its initial direct mail effort across the country in the first week of April. It has built a distribution center near Fuji City in Shizuoka prefecture and expects to be able to provide next-day delivery to small businesses in more than 85 percent of Japan.
For its part, THE SPORTS AUTHORITY, INC. will cut its ownership in MEGA SPORTS CO., LTD. a company formed with major supermarket operator JUSCO CO., LTD. in 1995 to open discount sporting goods superstores to 19 percent from 51 percent. Jusco will acquire those shares, paying the Fort Lauderdale, Florida company $13 million over five years. The Sports Authority said that it had decided that it was not in the company's best financial interests to invest more money in the needed expansion of its Japanese operations. The firm's head added that Jusco has the capacity to oversee the chain's growth since it continues to build and operate shopping centers that will include new locations for The Sports Authority. Mega Sports currently operates 13 stores under license from the American retailer.
JC PENNEY CO., INC.'s expansion into the Japanese market will come to a close in June. That is when it and partner DEODEO CORP. will end a 1996 alliance initiated to open home furnishings stores across the country under the JC Penney Home Collections name. Almost from the start, however, the two had problems figuring out the product selection that would appeal to Japanese consumers (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 344, May 1998, p. 15). Appliance retailer DeoDeo will rename the six JC Penney Home Collections stores that have been opened once the tie-up is dissolved.
The company that will oversee the opening of freestanding and in-store Liz Claiborne and Dana Buchman shops in Japan finally has been set up (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 347, August 1998, p. 15). Women's career clothing and sportswear designer LIZ CLAIBORNE INC. has a 19 percent interest in LIZ JAPAN, LTD. Supermarket operator JUSCO CO., LTD. owns the balance of the Chiba prefecture joint venture. The partners still expect to open their first location, an in-store shop in a major department store, this year.
Seattle's other specialty coffee company is attracting some major Japanese corporate backing as it expands its domestic outlets. In May 1998, a venture capital fund run by MITSUI & CO., LTD. invested in TULLY'S COFFEE CORP.'s local operation. Now, a venture capital subsidiary of MITSUBISHI CORP. has partnered with the company. In addition to providing capital, the affiliate of the trader will help Tully's Coffee find real estate for new store locations, provide management expertise and help with financing. Five Tully's Coffee stores, all located in Tokyo, are in business. Another 25 are scheduled to open in FY 1999.
In a pairing that is unusual even in Japan, affiliates of MOBIL CORP. and EASTMAN KODAK CO. have tied up to offer one-hour film developing at gas stations. MOBIL SEKIYU K.K. and KODAK IMAGEX, LTD. already have opened a self-serve gas station in Chiba, Chiba prefecture with a drive-through photo processing minilab. Others are planned.
An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.
A subsidiary of defense contractor LITTON INDUSTRIES, INC. has acquired for an undisclosed amount TARUTIN CO., LTD., a manufacturer of paste solder and soldering products for Japan's consumer electronics and automotive industries. Headquartered in Tokyo with a plant there and in Narita, the 60-employee Tarutin had revenues of approximately $17 million in the year through September 1998. It counts among its customers some of the biggest Japanese consumer electronics and automotive parts suppliers. Tarutin now is part of LITTON-WESTREX CO.'s worldwide Kester Solder Division.
An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.
The on-demand publishing, billing and financial statement printing business in Japan can take advantage of an extremely high-speed, high- resolution digital printing system from SCITEX DIGITAL PRINTING, INC. that has no domestic match. The Dayton, Ohio company has named SHOWA INFORMATION SYSTEMS CO., LTD. to market its VersaMark system, which can print nearly 2,200 ppm with a resolution of up to 600 dots per inch at a cost of less than a tenth of a cent. Printing in a range of colors as well as black and white is possible, as is two-sided printing. Two models of the VersaMark are available: one that prints 325 feet per minute and starts at $1.6 million and another that does 500 feet per minute. Showa Information Systems thinks that it can sell five VersaMark systems a year.
The world leader in solid object imaging, 3D SYSTEMS CORP., continues to push the envelope with the release of the ThermoJet Solid Object Printer. Like the Valencia, California company's other products, this printer allows design engineers to turn computer images into physical 3D objects. However, it does so more quickly and affordably in an office setting than the Actua 2000 that it replaces, thereby bringing solid object imaging within the reach of more businesses. Moreover, ThermoJet is said to offer the flexibility to make changes or modifications easily and to individual specifications. In Japan, ThermoJet is priced at $81,700.
The Windsor, Connecticut ABB COMBUSTION ENGINEERING INC. unit of ABB INC. has a $10 million contract to supply a heat-recovery steam generator for a 400-MW gas-fired combined-cycle power plant that JAPAN GAS TURBINE K.K. will build for independent power producer KAWASAKI STEEL CORP. The heat-recovery steam generator will convert the heat in the exhaust gases from a gas turbine into high-pressure, high-temperature steam that will drive a steam turbine. Construction of the KSC power plant is scheduled to start in January 2000, with commercial operations planned for June 2002. Japan Gas Turbine is majority-owned by ABB's Zurich, Switzerland parent. Its partner is KAWASAKI HEAVY INDUSTRIES, LTD.
An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.
The latest addition to EASTMAN KODAK CO.'s subsidiary's lineup of digital cameras is the DC240 Zoom, which has a 1.3-million charge-coupled device. Described as easy to use, even by novice photographers, the camera lists for $625. .....To meet the varied needs of professional photographers, the marketing arm of EASTMAN KODAK CO. has introduced the first member of the EKTACHROME Professional E100 Film family. These daylight- balanced, color reversal films are said to produce clean but saturated colors and extremely fine grain. Kodak also is marketing an EKTA-CHROME color reversal film for the nonprofessional.
POLAROID CORP.'s subsidiary hopes to sell this year 500,000 of what it claims is the world's smallest instant camera. Codeveloped with toy maker TOMY CO., LTD., which has been selling it under its own brand name since May 1998, the camera measures just 1.7 x 5.1 x 1.6 inches. Together with a 12-exposure pack of film and batteries, the Polaroid Pocket Shot costs $27.50 with a black case and slightly more with a silver one.
An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.
ULTRAK, INC., a manufacturer of products for the security and surveillance markets, sold its 10 percent stake in SECURION 24 CO., LTD. The Lewisville, Texas company acquired this ownership in August 1997. At that time, it made Securion 24, which is in the same line of business, the exclusive distributor of its products. Sales of Ultrak equipment were about $1.5 million in 1998 and are projected at more than $2.5 million this year. However, Ultrak decided that future growth could be better achieved by expanding its distribution channels in Japan. Securion 24 will continue its relationship with the company as a nonexclusive distributor.
At an undisclosed cost, KOCH MEMBRANE SYSTEMS, INC., a manufacturer of water-purification and other fluid-separation systems, acquired a majority interest in ABCOR JAPAN CO., LTD. The Tokyo-headquartered company supplies complete membrane systems as well as replacement membranes. It is a longtime distributor of Koch Membrane's products, which incorporate ultrafiltration, microfiltration, nanofiltration and reverse osmosis technologies. The Wilmington, Massachusetts firm expects to capitalize on Abcor Japan's engineering expertise to strengthen its position in the membrane-separation market in Japan and elsewhere in Asia.
VACUUM/ATMOSPHERES CO., a supplier of controlled atmosphere systems, has put the NEXUS ONE glove box system on the market through YAMAHACHI & CO., LTD., the Hawthorne, California company's distributor for the last eight years. The NEXUS ONE is an embedded, computer-based unit that monitors, controls and displays all system parameters of VAC's Dri- Trains and Dri-Labs equipment, including pressure control, safety set points, flow rate, regeneration, antechamber cycling and inert gas purge. Yamahachi is targeting sales of the $416,700-and-up NEXUS ONE to government-affiliated research laboratories as well as to makers of chips, lithium batteries, chemicals and drugs. It is projecting first-year sales between $3.3 million and $4.2 million.
The test and measurement side of HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. has released a number of new products. They include test boards for PCI bus expansion slots on PCs and servers. The boards, which can handle signals up to 66 MHz, help computer makers reduce warranty costs through preshipment testing as well as allow system engineers to shorten development times. HP Japan is eyeing yearly sales of about 100 of the $8,800 boards.
Also new on the market from HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. is a family of general-purpose, portable spectrum analyzers. The company claims that the HP ESA-E series, which spans five models in the frequency range from 1.5 GHz to 26.5 GHz, offers engineers in R&D, manufacturing and field service faster measurement speed, greater accuracy and better dynamic range than comparably priced products. At the same time, HP Japan added three frequency ranges to its HP ESA-L series of portable spectrum analyzers. This line is a low-cost alternative to the HP ESA-E family.
A new platform for testing fiber-optic components is available as well from HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. The HP 8164A Lightwave Measurement System supports a range of high-performance tunable laser modules. These enable engineers to customize their test setups for all types of active and passive dense wavelength division multiplexing products.
The subsidiary of LECROY CORP. has put on the market a $6,500 kit that transforms its digital oscilloscopes into a dedicated mask-testing tool that can be used for manufacturing, type approval and field testing of optical telecommunications circuits. Chestnut Ridge, New York-based LeCroy is projecting sales of 50 MT03 mask-testing kits a year.
ULTRATECH STEPPER, INC. has won a multimillion-dollar order for its 1700 machine vision system from a company described only as a leading Japanese maker of thin-film heads for disk drives. The customer is expanding its giant magnetoresistive head production capacity by building a plant in Asia. The San Jose, California manufacturer will ship the order by late fall. With this installation, Ultratech Stepper says, it will have thin-film-head lithography tools in "virtually all" of the buyer's worldwide fabrication facilities.
CIPHERGEN BIOSYSTEMS, INC., the developer of a protein analysis system for use in protein biology research, drug discovery and clinical diagnostics, has moved into the Japanese market. It formed a distribution venture for its SELDI (surface-enhanced laser desorption/ionization) Protein Biology System with SUMITOMO CORP., which recently spent $2 million to acquire a 3 percent interest in the Palo Alto, California company. Ciphergen has a 30 percent stake in the joint venture; the trader owns the balance. Backstopped by a research center in Kamakura, Kanagawa prefecture, the new company is targeting sales of the $333,300 system which consists of disposable ProteinChip array sets, a ProteinChip reader and SELDI Protocol Assistant software to pharmaceutical companies for accelerating the drug discovery process and to hospitals and research institutions.
With a lag, the mergers and acquisitions taking place in the medical equipment field in the United States lead to reorganizations of the affected companies' operations in Japan. The latest is an outgrowth of the 1998 purchase of U.S. SURGICAL CORP., a maker of surgical stapling equipment and other surgical wound management products, by conglomerate TYCO INTERNATIONAL LTD. of Exeter, New Hampshire and the subsequent formation of the Tyco Healthcare Group in Mansfield, Massachusetts. AUTO SUTURE JAPAN INC., formerly U.S. Surgical's subsidiary, became Tyco Healthcare's main Japanese presence. Now, Auto Suture Japan, which had FY 1998 revenues of $100 million, has absorbed the local operations of two other Tyco Healthcare companies: KENDALL HEALTHCARE PRODUCTS CO., a maker of adhesive products for medical use, and DAVIS & GRECK INC., a producer of sutures.
Medical imaging equipment manufacturer OEC MEDICAL SYSTEMS, INC. has booked an order for five of its Series 9600 Mobile Digital Imaging Systems from Wakayama Prefectural Medical College, a teaching hospital south of Osaka. The sale, arranged by CATHEX CO., LTD., the Salt Lake City, Utah company's distributor, consists of two 9600 general surgery systems, one 9600 basic vascular system, one 9600 advanced vascular system and one 9600 cardiac catheter laboratory system. The hospital intends to use the imaging equipment in a variety of surgical applications, including orthopedic, general surgery, vascular, neurovascular and cardiac procedures. OEC Medical Systems previously had sold a Series 9400 imaging system to the hospital.
GE-YOKOGAWA MEDICAL SYSTEMS, LTD. has agreed to participate in a project spearheaded by the Kobe city government and local medical institutions to develop nuclear magnetic resonance imaging equipment for surgical use that is not available in Japan. Key components of the system, which will be tailored for surgical treatment of digestive system disorders, already exist in the United States. Project members will adapt them for the targeted use. .....In a move that should give a direct boost to its sales of MRI and computed tomography equipment, GE-YOKOGAWA MEDICAL SYSTEMS, LTD. has teamed with JAYMAC SYSTEM CO., LTD., a Sapporo developer of medical imaging software, to improve the networking capabilities of its equipment. Their immediate goal is to integrate the data generated by MRI and CT imaging with patient information. The follow-up step is to develop equipment utilizing the new software for distribution through the channels of YOKOGAWA ELECTRIC CORP., the partner of GENERAL ELECTRIC CO. in GE-Yokogawa Medical Systems.
With MHW approval in hand, sales of NEOPROBE CORP.'s Neoprobe 1500 and neo2000 gamma-detection systems have started. CENTURY MEDICAL INC. is the exclusive distributor of the Dublin, Ohio company's products, which are used for external and intraoperative detection of radioactivity in body tissues or organs after patients have been administered radiopharmaceuticals.
MHW also has cleared for marketing DATASCOPE CORP.'s System 98 intra- aortic balloon pump and Profile 8Fr. balloon catheter. Besides providing more cardiac assistance, the System 98 balloon pump is said to have the unique ability to effectively help patients with irregular heart rhythms, such as atrial fibrillation. The Montvale, New Jersey manufacturer also says that the System 98 makes balloon pumping therapy simpler to administer and faster to initiate. Datascope's Profile 8Fr. balloon catheter represents even more of a breakthrough since it is the first such product that allows balloon pumping using the same sheath that a cardiologist inserts for coronary angioplasty/stent intervention.
PLC SYSTEMS, INC. expects MHW approval of its Heart Laser System in the second half of 1999 following the submission of the results of clinical testing last December. This system is designed for the treatment of cardiovascular disease through the less invasive procedure of laser revascularization. In the meantime, Franklin, Massachusetts-based PLC has renewed its exclusive distribution arrangement with the subsidiary of IMATRON INC. of South San Francisco, California. The new agreement requires the Imatron unit to purchase at least five Heart Laser Systems this year.
The choices for contact lens wearers in Japan, second only to the United States as a market, continue to expand. The newest will come from COOPERVISION, INC. via distributor ROHTO PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. MHW has cleared for marketing the Irvine, California manufacturer's soft spherical contact lenses for correcting nearsightedness and farsightedness as well as CooperVision's soft toric contact lenses for the smaller number of people who also require an astigmatic correction. Rohto, the top Japanese maker of nonprescription ophthalmic products, expects to launch sales of the CooperVision lenses in July.
Already the manufacturer of the best-selling contact lens in Japan, BAUSCH & LOMB INC. hopes to achieve the same position in the market for multipurpose disinfecting solutions. The Rochester, New York company's ReNu cold system for cleaning, rinsing and disinfecting soft contact lenses has received marketing go-ahead from MHW. Sales of this product, said to be the world's leading all-in-one contact lens care solution, as well as a companion product, ReNu Enzymatic Cleaner, were scheduled to start in April. The majority of Japanese contact lens wearers still disinfect their lenses with heat-sterilization methods.
HAEMONETICS CORP., a manufacturer of automated blood-processing systems and disposables, posted revenues in excess of $83.3 million in its last fiscal year in Japan, where the Braintree, Massachusetts company is the market leader in this equipment. Haemonetics' subsidiary foresees continued sales growth, in large part because of a plan announced last year to achieve national self-sufficiency in plasma derivatives by 2008. In the past, Japan imported much of its coagulation factors, immunoglobulin and albumin. The company is the top supplier of equipment and disposables used in the collection of plasma to the local Red Cross, which will need to add plasma-collection capacity if the self-sufficiency goal is to be reached.
An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.
At a time when all of Japan's big semiconductor makers are restructuring their operations at home and abroad, TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INC. has committed to a major strengthening of its Japanese manufacturing capabilities. Over the next three to four years, the company will spend between $333.3 million and $416.7 million to build an 8-inch (200-millimeter) line at its Miho wafer fabrication facility in Ibaraki prefecture. This plant will become one of TI's worldwide bases for making DSP and analog system-level integration chips the two products the big chipmaker has identified as key to its future. TI also will continue to invest in its Hiji plant in Oita prefecture, which will become a base for BiCMOS analog/mixed-signal products as well as for advanced packaging, assembly and testing. Part of TI's plans for Japan include, however, the closure at the end of 2000 of its Hatogaya plant in Saitama prefecture. The first fab the company built, the Hatogaya facility has been in operation since 1968. The main products made there, including LCD driver ICs, will be manufactured at either Miho or Hiji. The plant's 320 employees also will be transferred.
Big memory manufacturer MICRON TECHNOLOGY INC. and partner KOBE STEEL, LTD. also have broken ranks with Japanese semiconductor makers. Convinced that DRAM prices will continue to rebound, they announced an aggressive investment plan designed to transform KMT SEMICONDUCTOR, LTD. into the top producer of these parts in Japan. The Nishiwaki, Hyogo prefecture joint venture will invest $166.7 million by this summer to boost output of 64-megabit DRAMs to about 16 million units a month. The wafer fabrication facility started making these memories in February using Micron Technology's product and process know-how. Moreover, before the end of 2000, KMT Semiconductor expects to spend a similar amount to launch volume production of 128-megabit DRAMs using the Boise, Idaho company's 0.15-micron process technology. Monthly output of those chips is projected at 10 million units. All of KMT Semiconductor's production goes to Micron Technology, which acquired TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INC.'s 25 percent stake in the joint venture when it bought the Dallas company's DRAM business in June 1998.
Nine months after opening a regional headquarters in Tokyo (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 347, August 1998, p. 18), FAIRCHILD SEMICONDUCTOR CORP. teamed up with SHINSHO CORP. to form a marketing company. The 10-employee FAIRCHILD SHINSHO SEMICON CORP., in which the South Portland, Maine manufacturer of analog and mixed-signal chips has a 10 percent interest, is aiming for sales of $16.7 million in FY 1999. Shinsho, a KOBE STEEL, LTD. affiliate, markets DRAMs in Japan for MICRON TECHNOLOGY INC.
The 500-MHz Pentium III Xeon processor is on the market from INTEL CORP.'s subsidiary. Designed for midrange and higher servers and workstations used for demanding corporate computing needs, such as emerging Internet and data-intensive applications, the processor delivers two-, four- and eight-way scalability. It is available with 512 KB, 1 MB or 2 MB of L2 cache for prices ranging from $900 to $3,600 in quantities of 1,000 units. .....INTEL CORP.'s marketing unit also launched the Pentium III running at 450 MHz and 500 MHz for high-end desktop systems. The company claims that the 500-MHz version is 93 percent faster than a 450-MHz Pentium II processor on 3D calculations and 42 percent faster on multimedia applications. PC manufacturers are not advertising performance gains of those magnitudes, but they agree that the Pentium III family delivers, in Intel's words, a more visually rich Internet experience. In 1,000-unit quantities, the 450-MHz part costs around $500, while the 500-MHz version lists for approximately $700. Both have 512 KB of L2 cache.
A 400-MHz UltraSPARC version has been added to the SPARCengine Ultra AXmp family from SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC. This four-way embedded multiprocessor board is said to be the first designed specifically for the OEM telecommunications and networking markets. Its key advantage, according to Sun, is the ability to deliver unparalleled computing power in one-third the space of traditional servers. The new SPARC-engine Ultra AXmp is priced close to $6,300.
Field-programmable gate array supplier XILINX, INC. is shipping the Real 64/66 PCI core, described as the first complete solution that enables customers to design fully compliant yet flexible single-chip 64-bit, 66- MHz PCI v2.2 bus interface systems. Verified for the San Jose, California company's Virtex 300,000-gate and 1 million-gate FPGAs, the core is targeted at networking and communications products. The Real 64/66 PCI solution is priced at $15,000.
VIVID SEMICONDUCTOR, INC. and manufacturing partner OKI ELECTRIC INDUSTRY CO., LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 345, June 1998, p. 16) expect to have on the market by May TFT LCD column driver ICs for 13.1-inch notebook computer displays. The Chandler, Arizona company's technology cuts by two-thirds the power consumption of energy-draining driver ICs while producing high-resolution images in 16 million colors. Oki Electric is projecting an initial monthly output of 100,000 chips and five times that amount by September. Vivid Semiconductor also hopes to be sampling by July column driver ICs for 22-inch PC monitors.
The DCAM-103 single-chip image processor that LSI LOGIC CORP.'s subsidiary will start shipping in June is billed as helping manufacturers make attractively priced, feature-packed digital cameras for the mainstream market. The chip, the second in LSI's family of digital camera solutions, previews, captures, compresses, stores and displays digital still images. Priced at $29 each in volumes of 1,000 units, the DCAM-103 reportedly processes high-resolution images at the fastest rate but lowest cost while offering a significant improvement over systems using software compression algorithms. Also, by integrating multiple components into a single device, the part cuts power, space and costs.
HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. is sampling a CMOS color image sensor for digital cameras that is said to provide the sensitivity and the image quality of a charge-coupled device but at a cost at most of $35 per unit, its sample price. The HDCS-2000 provides a VGA resolution of 640 x 480 pixels and consumes just 40 milliwatts of power.
The industry's first single-chip radio transceiver for wireless voice and data applications that use the high-performance 2.4-GHz frequency band is available from NATIONAL SEMICONDUCTOR CORP.'s subsidiary. The LMX3162, priced at $5.70 each in 1,000-unit quantities, contains all the transmit and receive functions needed for a complete radio front-end for such products as cordless phones. The 2.4-GHz frequency range is considered the next high-volume consumer wireless band.
The single-mode CDMA handsets that KYOCERA CORP. will supply to DDI CORP. and NIPPON IDOU TSUSHIN CORP. for their cdmaOne cellular services will incorporate D5421 WorldCDMA chipsets from DSP COMMUNICATIONS, INC. The Cupertino, California company's product enables the handsets to provide longer standby and continuous talk times and to weigh less than previous cell phones. DSP Communications has a long-running relationship with Kyocera, as it does with a number of other name Japanese companies that make wireless products.
NETLOGIC MICROSYSTEMS, INC., a Mountain View, California supplier of what are called content addressable memory components and modules, has tapped MCM JAPAN LTD. to distribute its products. These span the NCAM, SyncCAM and IPCAM families of chips, which, in simplified terms, provide high-speed network searches in telecommunications and data communications equipment. MCM Japan has estimated sales of NetLogic's CAMs at $833,300 in the first year.
With silicon germanium starting to show up on the semiconductor industry's technology road map for high-speed data communications and wireless devices, APPLIED MATERIALS, INC.'s subsidiary has released the Epi Centura epitaxial platform to help manufacturers develop SiGe process technologies. The world's largest supplier of wafer fabrication equipment says that the ultralow-pressure and low-temperature technology of the already-in-use Epi Centura make it especially well-suited for SiGe applications. SiGe is an attractive material to chip makers because it facilitates extremely high frequencies, low power consumption and miniaturization. It also is similar enough to today's mainstay silicon that wafer fabrication equipment requires minimal modification to produce SiGe-based chips.
In June, TEGAL CORP. is scheduled to deliver a 6500 Series etch system to a repeat customer described only as a major Japanese consumer electronics maker. The system will be used for nitride and gold/platinum processing on gallium arsenide substrates for high-speed, handheld communications devices. The Petaluma, California company's equipment will be configured with a 6510 etch chamber as well as a 6540 etch chamber. The former is designed for high-selectivity polysilicon, silicon trench and GaAs etch applications, while the latter was developed for emerging film etch applications. Industry sources put the cost of the system at between $2 million and $3 million.
The Enviro photoresist stripper developed by ULVAC JAPAN, LTD.'s Andover, Massachusetts subsidiary is on the market in Japan and elsewhere in Asia. Designed for high-throughput performance with both 150-mm (6-inch) and 200-mm (8-inch) wafers, the cluster tool provides dual-chamber, parallel-processing capabilities. Ulvac has priced the Enviro at $500,000 or $833,300, depending on configuration. It is projecting sales of 10 units a year in the Japan/Asia marketplace. ULVAC TECHNOLOGIES, INC. started development work on the Enviro in 1993. It has sold more than 40 units since 1995.
With six licensees of its Micro BGA (ball-grid array) chip-scale packaging technology headquartered in Japan (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 353, February 1999, p. 23), TESSERA INC. opened a sales and service office in Tokyo to better support these and future customers. The San Jose, California company's technology enables ICs to be housed in packages no larger than the chip itself.
To help semiconductor makers speed volume production of RAMBUS INC.'s high-bandwidth Direct RDRAM memories, the subsidiary of big automatic test equipment manufacturer SCHLUMBERGER LTD. will open in May a Rambus Satellite Characterization Center at its Tokyo headquarters. The technical center will house the company's recently introduced three- model RDX2200 series of test systems, which are designed specifically for design verification, device characterization and thermal characterization of RDRAM devices. Memory manufacturers will have access to RDX2200 test cells on an as-needed basis. They also can tap the expertise of the SABER (Schlumberger Advanced Business Engineering Resources) personnel staffing the RSCC. Schlumberger formed SABER in May 1998 to provide a full range of technical and business management services to the semiconductor industry in an attempt to boost customers' time to market, time to volume and profitability. By the end of 1999, the company's subsidiary expects to double to 40 the number of SABER specialists on staff.
HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. has a June ship date in Japan and elsewhere for what it says is the first comprehensive parametric test system to efficiently handle process verification for next-generation CMOS ICs at high throughput. The HP 4072A also delivers powerful flash memory testing capabilities, rapid wafer-level reliability assessment and precise ring-oscillator measurements. HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. believes that it can sell 100 testers in the first year, with much of this business coming from makers of system-on-a-chip devices. The HP 4072A starts at $375,000.
An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.
Consumers in Japan soon will be able to shop for a car by PC. MICROSOFT CORP., SOFTBANK CORP. and YAHOO! JAPAN CORP. have agreed to localize Microsoft's MSN CarPoint on-line automotive service. The launch date is the fourth quarter of this year. A still-unnamed joint venture in which the software giant has a 40 percent interest with Softbank owning 50 percent and Yahoo! Japan 10 percent will convert the American version of CarPoint into Japanese and add content and services specific to the domestic market. Microsoft will provide the technology and the interface design for the service, which will include DealerPoint, a system designed to help car and truck dealers track and manage their Internet customers. Featured on both the MSN Japan and the Yahoo! Japan Web portals, the on-line car- buying service should be available to about 80 percent of Japan's on-line consumers.
DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s local arm has buffed up its e-commerce operations with the help of INFOSYS TECHNOLOGIES LTD. That Fremont, California company first enhanced the operations of the direct marketer/build-to-order PC maker by integrating a Japan-specific configuration and pricing data base with its on-line ordering system. The second phase focused on improving the functionality and the responsiveness of Dell's Japanese Web presence. By 2000, Dell and all of its subsidiaries around the world expect to conduct half of their business on-line.
Leveraging the Web's ability to reach even remote areas and its 24-hour availability, PREVIEW SYSTEMS, INC. and exclusive marketing partner SONY MARKETING (JAPAN) INC. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 350, November 1998, p. 22) have signed up the first customer for their Internet-based electronic software distribution system. Tokyo-based VECTOR K.K. is using the ESD system to launch a new business delivering demonstration software packages over the Web. Cupertino, California- based Preview Systems' Ziplock ESD not only can be used to deliver software via the Internet but also is adaptable to almost any kind of electronic content, such as digital music and images.
COMMERCE ONE, INC. is partnering with NIPPON TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE CORP. to develop a business-to-business electronic marketplace. The telecommunications heavyweight has licensed the Walnut Creek, California firm's Commerce Chain Solution package as the basis for a Web site for trading goods and services. The software will automatically handle purchase authorization, accounting and contractual procedures. The partners are touting the potential of the B2B site to cut purchasing cycle times, reduce the costs of purchasing operations and increase firms' buying power.
Also targeting the B2B market, INFORMATION RESOURCES ENGINEERING, INC. and partner OSAKA MEDIA PORT CORP. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 347, August 1998, p. 21) have begun offering VPN (virtual private network) services via OMP's network and communications circuits. They describe OMP's SafeNet Services as the cornerstone of a secure, tight linkage between a company and its suppliers and customers, especially for those interested in transitioning to e-commerce. Earlier this year, Baltimore-headquartered IRE formed a strategic alliance with Osaka Media Port and MITSUBISHI CORP. to share know-how related to Internet security. Industry sources expect the three companies will begin offering value-added VPN services.
The long-standing joint venture between GE INFORMATION SERVICES, INC. and DENTSU INC. is offering three international network outsourcing packages. For monthly fees starting at $6,700, INFORMATION SERVICES INTERNATIONAL-DENTSU, LTD.'s IBP service includes 24-hour network and intranet operations and network monitoring and backup services. ISID's PPP Gateway Service provides Internet access and e-mail support for monthly charges beginning at $1,500. Also on ISID's menu are VPN Security Services. At a monthly cost ranging anywhere from $1,700 to $10,000, ISID not only will operate and maintain a VPN but will build it as well.
Acknowledging that a growing number of e-commerce servers are powered by Linux, CYBERCASH, INC. has ported its Internet payment conduit to the open-source operating system. CashRegister for Linux connects a virtual or real storefront to CyberCash's payment services, enabling businesses to handle secure, real-time payments in person or via the Web. The Reston, Virginia company's subsidiary, in which 11 Japanese companies, mainly banks, are partners, offers a variety of on-line payment solutions.
Through a tie-up with JAPAN TELENET CO., LTD., Naperville, Illinois-based MERCANTEC, INC. has rolled out a localized version of its virtual store design and operation package, SoftCart. SoftCart 4.0/J gives a potential Web merchant a very simple point-and-click interface for building an e- commerce Web site. It also provides the tools to operate and maintain it. Japan Telenet, which helped Mercantec localize the package, leases SoftCart 4.0/J for $250 a month. It is aiming to have 1,000 virtual stores in place by April 2000, generating revenues of $1.5 million the first year.
Making it clear that it thinks the Web browser battle is still on, MICROSOFT CORP. has released a Japanese-language version of Internet Explorer 5.0. The latest iteration of IE sports even closer integration with the Windows operating system as well as a bevy of new features aimed a making Web surfing easier and simpler. As before, IE is offered as part of the Windows operating system bundle or as a free download from the Internet.
CONNECTIX CORP. of San Mateo, California has released a new version of its Surf Express Web browser accelerator through two marketing points: MEDIA VISION INC. of Tokyo and SYSTEMSOFT CO., LTD. of Fukuoka. The $55 browser utility speeds up Internet searches as well as the displaying of Web pages. It is the only accelerator compatible with AMERICA ONLINE, INC.'s Web browser.
The developer of a competing browser accelerator, KISS SOFTWARE CORP., is broadening the market appeal of its Speed Surfer by billing the package as an all-in-one Internet toolbox. The Newport Beach, California company's product includes modules that protect Web sites from unauthorized hacking, monitor modem use and cut off unauthorized connections, scan all virtual ports into the network for "back door" attacks and give users full control over "cookies" stored on their systems by external Web sites. Kiss Software's distributors WINNINGRUN SOFTWARE, INC. and SUPREME RESOURCES INTERNATIONAL have struck a deal with CANON SALES CO., INC. to bundle Speed Surfer-J and MEDIA VISION INC.'s Web Driver browser utility with the COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. and IBM JAPAN LTD. PCs it handles. Kiss Software is a wholly owned subsidiary of ESYNCH CORP.
The subsidiaries of router hardware king CISCO SYSTEMS, INC. and VERISIGN, INC. have joined forces to offer digital certificate-based VPN solutions to businesses. The two have bundled Cisco's network security know-how with VeriSign's OnSite for IPSec for firms interested in engaging in secure e-commerce transactions. The companies hope to generate revenues of $8.3 million over the next two years based on their secure VPN package.
Separately, VERISIGN, INC.'s subsidiary has selected BEING CO., LTD. of Tsu, Mie prefecture to distribute its personal digital certificate security software. The Mountain View, California firm's Digital ID plugs into a user's browser or e-mail software, automatically encrypting messages and sealing them with the user's digital "signature." Being expects sales to hit 10,000 units the first year.
The Japan unit of RSA DATA SECURITY, INC. has rolled out two localized products targeting the needs of Java-language developers. RSA BSAFE SSL-J gives programmers the native Java tools to link the San Mateo, California firm's encryption engine with the Secure Sockets Layer Web standard, while BSAFE Crypto-J does the same for any Java-based application. The two programs start at $20,800. They should find a ready market because e-commerce is booming in Japan.
Santa Cruz, California-based METAWARE INC. has picked SOFTBOAT INC. (formerly Lifeboat Inc.) to handle sales and support of its full line of software development tools on an exclusive basis. The Tokyo company will license MetaWare's High C/C++ and Embedded C++ compilers for the ARM, PowerPC and x86 instruction sets, plus its SeeCode Debugger for the same target processors and the company's Statistical Profiler software performance analysis tool.
As videogame hardware makers race to introduce their next-generation units, game developers will be using METROWERKS, INC.'s software tools to write titles that take full advantage of the hardware advances. The San Jose, California company has signed pacts to port its CodeWarrior integrated development environment, MIPS ISA 4 and SH-4 tools for C/C++ to NINTENDO CO., LTD.'s Nintendo 64, SEGA ENTERPRISES, LTD.'s Dreamcast and SONY CORP.'s PlayStation platforms. All three software development kits run under Windows 95/98/NT, allowing game writers to begin creating titles before the hardware makers debut their next generation of systems. The agreements also reduce the roadblocks to porting games among the three systems, a plus for software developers.
IBM JAPAN LTD. is looking for wide distribution of its speech-recognition software development kit for Windows-based PCs running off the new Pentium III processor. ViaVoice 1.5 and related programs allow software developers to make their programs speech-aware. They are available for download at no charge from IBM Japan's Web site.
Working closely with distributor and software solutions provider NETSERVE INC., the subsidiary of PROGRESS SOFTWARE CORP. has rolled out a native Japanese version of its application development, deployment and management software. Apptivity v3 is a Java-based application server and integrated development environment for building Web-based business software. Version 3's interface and output not only are entirely in Japanese, but it offers tools to handle thin client needs, legacy data connectivity, support for the latest Java and Enterprise Java Beans standards and high reliability and scalability. NISSHO IWAI CORP. and INES CORP. are investors in Progress Software's subsidiary along with the Bedford, Massachusetts parent.
UNIFY CORP.'s VISION Web application builder/server package was chosen by MIROKU JYOHO SERVICE CO., LTD. to develop its Management Intelligence Core System for Networks enterprise resource planning solution. The Tokyo-based custom software developer chose the San Jose, California firm's VISION AppBuilder and VISION AppServer because of their simple interface, built-in support for Java and HTML and cross-platform compatibility. Miroku Jyoho Services' MICSNET package is independent of both customers' operating systems and back-end data bases. The first three MICSNET modules cover finance, payroll and sales management.
Southfield, Michigan-based PROFORMA CORP. has named COMPUTER INSTITUTE OF JAPAN, LTD. to sell its business process modeling software. ProVision Workbench 3.1 integrates workflow, use-case modeling and object modeling to create a flexible and seamless environment for visualizing and planning a company's operations and activities. CIJ, an independent software developer with two U.S. subsidiaries (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 353, February 1999, p. 10), helped with the localization of ProVision Workbench. It will provide integration and after- sale support.
The operating system software for the S/390 family of mainframe computers has been updated. IBM JAPAN LTD.'s OS S/390 v2 Release 7 is optimized for server operations, handling TCP/IP transactions up to 15 times faster than previous versions and offering built-in network management tools. Lease fees for the new system software begin at $2,800 a month. IBM Japan already is promising that Release 8 will have even better server management tools when it debuts in the fall. .....Separately, IBM JAPAN LTD. has decided to back the Linux open-source operating system. Not only will the subsidiary of the world's premier computer company offer contract-based hardware and software support for Linux, but it will preinstall RED HAT SOFTWARE, INC.'s latest Linux OS package on its PCs at a user's request.
INTEGRATED SYSTEMS, INC.'s pSOSystem embedded, real-time operating kernel has been chosen by CASIO COMPUTER CO., LTD. to run its new QV- 7000SX digital camera. pSOSystem, Casio said, simplified software development for the digital camera, which can take both digital still images and short movies. The company will base future digital imaging products on the Sunnyvale California firm's real-time OS, which is the most widely used such product in the embedded marketplace today.
To meet the robust demand for software that integrates Unix and Windows systems, WRQ, INC. of Seattle continues to bring out localized versions of its Reflection family of middleware (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 353, February 1999, p. 25). The latest addition the $670 or so Reflection X v7.1 terminal emulator lets Windows-based PCs act as terminals for a wide range of Unix-based hosts. .....A competing product is being offered by the maker of Windows itself. MICROSOFT CORP.'s $250 Windows NT Services for Unix Add-On Pack/Japanese lets computers running the two operating systems communicate and exchange data.
Network administrators now have access to ELRON SOFTWARE INC.'s award-winning CommandView family of Internet gateway management utilities through distributor ADVANCED RESEARCH OF TECHNOLOGIES, INC. The Cambridge, Massachusetts firm's firewall, Internet access manager and bandwidth manager protect networks from Web-based hacker attacks, limit access to the Internet to authorized users and prioritize Internet access for critical applications.
NETWORK ASSOCIATES, INC.'s subsidiary has released new versions of its popular antivirus network utilities. VirusScan Enterprise Edition 4.02, which costs $815, and the $1,000 NetShield 4.02 protect clients and servers, respectively, from hostile computer programs. The programs are up to date, able to prevent damage from the Melissa and the Worm.ExploreZip programs that recently caused problems around the globe.
To maintain its hold on the enterprise storage market, EMC CORP. has developed a data-management utility for Fibre Channel network topologies. EMC Volume Logix protects information residing in multiple files by limiting the ability of each host server in the network to "see" only those volumes for which it has proper authorization. This ability to control host server access to data becomes especially important as a company implements a SAN (storage area network). The Hopkinton, Massachusetts company's subsidiary priced Volume Logix around $18,800.
Following the successful introduction of a Windows NT version of its product (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 345, June 1998, p. 19), LEGATO SYSTEMS, INC. has ported its NetWorker network backup management utility to systems running SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC.'s Solaris operating system. In addition, through its subsidiary, the Palo Alto, California firm continues to localize all its software offerings for the Japanese user and to work with Japanese systems integrators to adapt NetWorker for custom environments.
DANTZ DEVELOPMENT CORP. has its eye on the same market. The Orinda, California company recently released a localized version of its Retrospect 4.1 network backup utility. Targeting small to midsized firms that lack in-house computer expertise, Retrospect 4.1 automates the configuration of backup clients and storage media, the creation of backup scripts and the reporting of backup activities. It lists for $270.
ASTEA INTERNATIONAL, INC. appointed MEMOREX TELEX JAPAN LTD. to distribute its ServiceAlliance customer relationship management package. Memorex Telex selected the Horsham, Pennsylvania firm's package for its own use after in-the-field testing. It expects ServiceAlliance's functionality, ease of customization and cost savings not to mention its full conversion to Japanese to appeal to customers.
New York City's RELAVIS CORP. (formerly MFJ International) partnered with CIS CORP. of Tokyo to bring a localized version of its OverQuota sales force automation and CRM software to local users. OverQuota provides a full range of front-office functions: relationship, opportunity and channel management, marketing support, remote/mobile access, team-based selling and sales forecasting. Besides being Internet-friendly, OverQuota works with LOTUS DEVELOPMENT CORP.'s Notes/Domino groupware, back- end data bases such as INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP.'s DB2 and ORACLE CORP.'s family of products and even some ERP packages.
The 100th order from Japan for MOSAIX CORP.'s self-named call management software has been booked by distributor ITOCHU TECHNO- SCIENCE CORP. The latest version of the Redmond, Washington company's product will be installed by DAI-TOKYO FIRE & MARINE INSURANCE CO., LTD. The Tokyo property and casualty insurer was Mosaix's first local customer in mid-1991. It says that it will continue to adopt call-center technology aggressively. The new version of Mosaix will allow 36 of Dai- Tokyo's insurance agents to handle more than 100,000 calls each per month.
Competition in the enterprise management systems business continues to heat up. COMPUTER ASSOCIATES INTERNATIONAL, INC., for example, is trumpeting the recent selection of its Unicenter TNG package by SEGA ENTERPRISES, LTD. The videogame maker said that it picked the Islandia, New York firm's EMS for its platform independence and ability to provide comprehensive management for the company's more than 900 amusement facilities throughout Japan. Sega and CA are cooperating on extending Unicenter's reach to 690 of the Japanese firm's white-collar desktops and using it to manage Sega's SAP AG R/3 applications.
HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. has fired back, rolling out a new version of its parent's EMS offering. HP OpenView IT/Operations 4.2 focuses on keeping business-critical applications and services running 24 hours a day. It is written for SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC.'s Solaris operating system. MITSUI & CO., LTD. and TOSHIBA CORP. help HP Japan sell, install and support the OpenView family. Licenses for HP OpenView IT/Operations 4.2 start at $52,500 and $130 per node.
An enterprise application integration package is available from the new, wholly owned Tokyo subsidiary of SOFTWARE TECHNOLOGIES CORP. The Monrovia, California company opened STC JAPAN K.K. to provide sales, support and training for its DataGate integration suite. DataGate supports multiple messaging capabilities, including data conversion, translation, transformation, encryption, monitoring and routing. It also links with more than 20,000 legacy data base systems, ERP packages and other standards-based applications.
FOGLIGHT SOFTWARE, INC. (formerly Resolute Software, Inc.) of Pleasanton, California has brought its application performance management package to Japan with the help of the CAPTECH K.K. subsidiary of CAPITAL TECHNOLOGIES INTEGRATION INC. of Emeryville, California. RAPS v4.2 automates and centralizes application performance management functions, simplifying the tasks of keeping critical programs running, monitoring and reporting on application service levels and allowing administrators to forecast future IT requirements.
Pursuing its vision of becoming a one-stop "knowledge management" software company, LOTUS DEVELOPMENT CORP.'s subsidiary has released updates of the popular Notes/Domino groupware family. Notes R5, which costs $65 per client, and Domino R5, which starts at $830, not only offer full support for Internet connectivity and distributed computing but provide better integration with ERP programs as well.
Also touting its new persona as a vendor of enterprise information management systems, SEAGATE SOFTWARE, INC. has updated its popular Seagate Crystal Info package and renamed it Seagate Info 7. The integrated suite of business intelligence tools to analyze and share information throughout a corporation includes report design, ad hoc query, advanced SQL editing, OLAP (on-line analytical processing) cube building, multidimensional analysis, report viewers, schedulers and processing servers.
The Linux bandwagon continues to attract new riders, especially among developers of business applications. IBM JAPAN LTD., for example, recently announced that it would port its mainstay DB2 relational data base to the open-source, Unix-based operating system. .....Also getting on for the ride is SYBASE, INC. The Emeryville, California company not only has tweaked its Adaptive Server Enterprise 11.9.2 to run on Linux systems, but its subsidiary plans to offer technical support to users of ASE for Linux when it goes on sale in June. An ASE for Linux five-user license with technical support will be offered at a promotional price of $830 compared with $740 for a license without it.
A historical data base engine developed by FAME INFORMATION SERVICES, INC. is at the heart of a new financial information service developed by NIHON KEIZAI SHIMBUN, INC. and its QUICK CORP. affiliate. The new AMSUS service combines Quick's real-time data distribution platform, QUICK-IS, and Nikkei's NEEDS historical data with the New York City firm's FAME data base engine. Via a simple graphical interface, AMSUS subscribers can analyze and manipulate historical financial information on Japanese firms.
SEMICONDUCTOR LEADING EDGE TECHNOLOGIES INC. the Japanese semiconductor industry consortium researching 300-mm (12-inch) wafer technologies that is better known as SELETE has licensed a cost and resource evaluation solution from WRIGHT WILLIAMS & KELLY of Pleasanton, California. WWK's Factory Commander system will be installed at SELETE's Yokohama headquarters to project the costs and the revenues of transitioning to and operating a 300-mm wafer fabrication plant. SELETE is familiar with WWK's products, having used its Two Cool package over the last two years to hold down the growth of its equipment budget.
The subsidiary of Cary, North Carolina-based SAS INSTITUTE INC. has released a credit and financial risk management package in English, with the Japanese version set for introduction in June. The $500,000 Risk Dimensions gives large companies a complete toolbox for evaluating and managing their market and credit positions, including modules for mark- to-market valuation, scenario and sensitivity analysis and value at risk using several different methods. Risk Dimensions is the centerpiece of a new risk-management consulting and services unit within SAS Institute's local unit. This business will target financial institutions as its first customers, hoping to sign up 10 of them.
The market for ERP software continues to expand. For instance, SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC.'s marketing arm, hoping to capitalize on the popularity of SAP AG's R/3 ERP package, has put together a menu of R/3 software and services, including setup or upgrade of the complex program, operation and maintenance, performance analysis and data backup design. For its part, HITACHI, LTD. has added ORACLE CORP.'s ERP package, Oracle Applications, to its portfolio of ERP offerings. These include SAP R/3, BAAN CO.'s BAAN IV and Hitachi's homegrown, low-cost GEM Planet. By boosting its ERP stable to four, Hitachi hopes to boost revenues from this business line to $83 million for the first half of FY 1999.
Meanwhile, SSA, INC.'s subsidiary and HITACHI, LTD. have opened a training and support center in Tokyo for customers running the Chicago firm's BPCS (short for Business Planning and Control System) ERP package on Hitachi mainframes (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 352, January 1999, p. 25). .....At the same time, SSA, INC.'s local marketing outfit has brought out a version of BPCS tailored for the Internet age. eBPCS extends the ERP architecture throughout a manufacturer's supply chain and financial links, integrating easily with third-party software and legacy systems to provide seamless business process integration.
MARCAM CORP. is promoting sales of its Protean ERP package through partner NEC CORP. The Newton, Massachusetts company and NEC have been working together for some time to adapt and expand Protean to meet the special needs of Japanese businesses. The latest twist is to add an accounting module to offer consolidated financial management functions, features being tested by TEIJIN LTD. NEC hopes to boost the number of companies using Protean to 70 in the current fiscal year from about 50 in FY 1998.
Continuing to expand its distribution channels, supply chain management software developer I2 TECHNOLOGIES, INC. recently signed NIPPON STEEL CORP. and a KOBE STEEL, LTD. affiliate to market its Rhythm family. They join ORACLE CORP.'s subsidiary as distributors. i2's product is at the core of a collaborative supply and demand planning system that several major Japanese companies are developing for the retail sector (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 354, March 1999, p. 28).
WARNER-LAMBERT CO. is helping its subsidiary get into fighting shape by installing SCM software from MANUGISTICS, INC. The maker of pharmaceuticals, personal-care products and confectioneries will implement the Rockville, Maryland firm's SCM solution in all stages of operations from materials procurement to shipment, with the goal of reducing inventory costs by 20 percent and increasing inventory turnover by 30 percent. The system will be installed first in Warner-Lambert's shaving products department before being extended to cover other parts of the business.
NIKE INC.'s Japan unit has the same idea, installing a predictive retail and inventory management system developed by a division of San Diego, California-based HNC SOFTWARE INC. HNC Retek Retail Solutions and integrator ITOCHU TECHNO-SCIENCE CORP. installed the first Japanese version of the Retek Merchandising System at Nike's operations in just six months and on budget.
A fully localized version of COCREATE SOFTWARE INC.'s latest product data management solution is available through its subsidiary. WorkManager 5.1 puts the workflow process into Cyberspace with its Web-based features, including data base server monitoring and circular link checking. The $15,800 PDM package accepts data from several mechanical design programs, such as SolidDesigner and ME10, and integrates with ERP packages like SAP R/3. Sales of 40 copies are projected for the first year. Fort Collins, Colorado-based CoCreate is a HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. company.
TAYLOR MANUFACTURING SYSTEMS, INC. has completed installation of its advanced manufacturing planning and scheduling system at one of AIWA CO., LTD.'s plants. The Atlanta firm's TESS program was integrated with SSA, INC.'s BPCS ERP package to help Aiwa plant managers increase manufacturing efficiency and facilitate short-term production forecasting. In time, TESS will be integrated with BPCS at all of Aiwa's consumer electronics facilities around the world.
Also in the area of manufacturing execution software, SEQUENCIA CORP. (formerly PID, Inc.) has signed a deal with MORINAGA MILK INDUSTRY CO., LTD. to install its OpenBatch recipe-management software at multiple Morinaga facilities. The Phoenix, Arizona firm's product first will be used to control the mixing and cooking of cheeses at a Morinaga plant near Yokohama. OpenBatch will be extended to the production of other products if all goes well. Morinaga makes many products under license from KRAFT FOODS, INC.
Users of Windows-based PCs have two new utilities to make life simpler. SYMANTEC CORP.'s subsidiary has released a localized version of its latest disk troubleshooting and repair package, Norton Utilities 4.0 for Windows 95/98. At $80, the new version is 17 percent less expensive than the one it supersedes, a factor behind Symantec's sales goal of 150,000 units the first year. Meanwhile, a function-key customization program written by KISS SOFTWARE CORP. has been translated into Japanese by WINNINGRUN SOFTWARE, INC. for sale under its Software Magic brand name. ShortCuts 2.0 allows users to define macros for up to 42 different keys, including such common Web-surfing functions as going to favorite Web sites or pages.
On the Windows CE front, LOTUS DEVELOPMENT CORP.'s unit has rolled out an information management application that runs on Windows CE personal digital assistants and other handheld devices but is not linked to its Notes/Domino groupware. The $30 Organizer 2000 is built around a schedule manager. It also includes modules to exchange data with host systems through Internet or cellular phone connections.
EASTMAN KODAK CO.'s local operation is offering a Japanese version of Kodak Picture Shot, a digital-image viewing utility for Windows CE devices. NEC CORP. has agreed to bundle the utility with its Mobile Gear II line of PDAs.
In a potential boost for Windows CE, MICROSOFT CORP. and NTT MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK, INC., Japan's biggest cellular services provider, have signed a research agreement to adapt the operating system for use in cell phones. The first upgrade planned is to give Windows CE the power to handle changes in the quality of cellular connections. Then the two will focus on developing e-mail, appointment and other information services delivered through Windows CE-powered mobile terminals.
Add another major win for PARAMETRIC TECHNOLOGY CORP.'s Pro/ENGINEER mechanical design automation package. YANMAR DIESEL ENGINE CO., LTD. has contracted to spend $40 million over the next six years on Pro/ENGINEER software and services. The Osaka-based engine maker said that it decided to standardize on Pro/ENGINEER because the package offered all the features that the company needs to streamline its production processes while expanding global market share. HITACHI, LTD. also picked PARAMETRIC TECHNOLOGY CORP.'s Pro/ENGINEER system to enhance the competitiveness of its Mito Works elevator and escalator manufacturing operations. The conglomerate will spend $2.4 million on Pro/ENGINEER and PTC consulting time to implement a design-through- manufacturing system.
AUTODESK, INC. has reworked its flagship 2D CAD product with the millennium in mind. AutoCAD 2000, the successor to AutoCAD v14, brings full integration with the Internet to the popular CAD program for PCs. AutoCAD 2000 also will become the keystone of a new family of specialized CAD programs that provide complete, vertical solutions to specific industries. Autodesk's subsidiary has priced AutoCAD 2000 at $5,000, although companies upgrading from an earlier version of AutoCAD will pay only $830.
Even as it revamps its entire product line, THINK3 (formerly CadLab, Inc.) of Santa Clara, California is maintaining its ties with exclusive distributor TOYOTA CAELUM, INC. That company, a joint venture between TOYOTA MOTOR CORP. and MITSUI ENGINEERING & SHIPBUILDING CO., LTD., has put on the market the final iteration version 9 of think3's Eureka Gold low-cost 3D CAD program for Windows 95/98/NT systems. It is priced at $7,500. Seven companies resell think3's products (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 26). They expect to sell 1,000 copies of the latest Eureka Gold program in the initial year.
Competing 3D CAD software maker COCREATE SOFTWARE INC. has signed up another distributor for its SolidDesigner package. FUJITSU KYUSHU ENGINEERING LTD. will sell and support the $1.3 million SolidDesigner. It is looking for sales of 100 units a year. The FUJITSU, LTD. affiliate joins four other distributors of the Fort Collins, Colorado firm's products. They include OBIC BUSINESS CONSULTANTS CO., LTD. and OTSUKA SHOKAI CO., LTD.
Market newcomer VISIONARY DESIGN SYSTEMS, INC. has given exclusive distribution rights to its mechanical CAD program to HITACHI ZOSEN INFORMATION SYSTEMS CO., LTD. HZIS, described as Japan's foremost MCAD systems integrator and value-added reseller, will help to translate the Santa Clara, California firm's IronCAD package into Japanese as well as market and support the software through its extensive existing network. IronCAD realizes Visionary Design's "e-Engineering" approach by integrating the complete design chain through the Web.
Englewood, Florida-based MERRY MECHANIZATION, INC. has brought its low-cost 3D CAD system for sheet-metal stamping to the Japanese market through its Osaka subsidiary. Sheet Lightning, sold as SMP/IS Master Series in the United States, helps engineers transform 2D or 3D CAD drawings created with other software packages into the patterns, molds and related components needed to turn sheet metal into the desired product.
A utility from ACTIFY, INC. allows users of its 3D View program to import and display CAD drawings from a wide range of sources, including CATIA, IGES, STL, VDA-FS, Parasolid, SolidWorks, DXF/DWG, ISO and G-Code. Distributor DATA DESIGN, INC. is asking only $240 for the San Francisco-based company's product.
Electronic design automation leader CADENCE DESIGN SYSTEMS, INC. and FUJITSU, LTD. have integrated their ASIC design tools to make it easier to produce single-chip systems. The strategic development partners combined the San Jose, California firm's System Level Constraint flow design process with Fujitsu's proprietary design tools. A new method of constraint passing with advanced timing-driven placement, routing and physical optimization techniques shortens the design time for system-on- a-chip devices by as much as 30 percent. Moreover, the technique is applicable to 0.25-micron to 0.18-micron process technologies.
Also targeting the design of chips with more than 100 million transistors is start-up Y EXPLORATIONS, INC. of Irvine, California. It assigned marketing rights to its LSI design support system to SOLITON SYSTEMS K.K. The Tokyo firm will install and support the user-friendly package, which integrates intellectual property cores into complete one-chip systems at a cost of around $250,000.
A new static noise analysis tool from CADMOS DESIGN TECHNOLOGY, INC. is available locally through MARUBENI SOLUTIONS CORP. The San Jose, California firm claims that PacifIC is the first comprehensive noise analyzer for deep-submicron designs, allowing designers to validate highly complex chips before reaching silicon. The package starts at $319,200. Nonetheless, because of the CadMOS package's unique capabilities, Marubeni Solutions expects to sell 20 in the first year of marketing.
Building on a February 1998 tie-up, MENTOR GRAPHICS CORP. licensed big PCB design tool maker ZUKEN INC. to sell its Interconnectix high-speed PCB design software. Yokohama-based Zuken and Wilsonville, Oregon- headquartered Mentor Graphics jointly will develop an interface that transparently exchanges data between Zuken's CR-5000 PCB design package and Interconnectix.
New partners VERIBEST, INC. of Boulder, Colorado and CADIX INC. are offering alternative PCB design systems. The Tokyo company, Japan's number-two PCB tool supplier, will market and support both its own Circuit Assembly CAD (SFX Series) and, on an exclusive basis, VeriBest's Expedition Series for digital and mixed-signal boards that run on Windows NT systems instead of expensive engineering workstations. The combined package is priced from $50,000. Boulder, Colorado-based VeriBest will continue to support its PCB products locally and to sell its computer- aided engineering tools directly.
Both home and business users now have access to PHOTODISC, INC.'s library of more than 75,000 digitized stock photographs, thanks to a nonexclusive distribution agreement with AMANA CORP., a leading vendor of custom and stock images. The pact allows amana to distribute PhotoDisc's more than 160 CD-ROMs of royalty-free stock images as well as to burn custom-order discs of images drawn from the Seattle company's image resources. PhotoDisc has a Tokyo sales office but uses distributors to reach a broader market.
ALGOREX, INC. has picked NTT ADVANCED TECHNOLOGIES CORP. to sell its telecommunications network design software. The San Francisco firm's Algoware family of software tools lets engineers easily build wireless and wired digital communications systems using Algorex's ready-to-use algorithms. The package then analyzes and evaluates the systems from various standpoints, such as robustness.
Preparing to provide the telephone service of the future, INTER-TEL, INC. is offering the latest version of its Internet protocol telephony gateway through NTT INTERNATIONAL CORP. and NTT COMMUNICATIONWARE CORP. With help from these two companies, the Phoenix, Arizona firm's Vocal'Net IP Gateway is compatible with the Signaling System 7 standard protocol used in existing telephone networks. This compatibility, which extends to NIPPON TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE CORP.'s switches, allows Internet telephony providers to offer such commonly expected services as caller ID, call forwarding and call blocking.
The benefits of SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC.'s Java, Jini and JavaCard technologies will be brought to NTT MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK, INC.'s digital cellular customers. The partners have started to integrate these technologies into NTT DoCoMo's i-mode digital cellular services network and its upcoming wideband-CDMA third-generation digital cellular system. i-mode customers can browse the Web, check their e- mail and use on-line services via specially equipped iPhones. NTT DoCoMo officials say that integrating Sun's technology will improve security for such i-mode transactions as on-line shopping and banking as well as give the i-mode system the flexibility to support future devices and services. Sun and NTT DoCoMo expect to demonstrate the first prototype of the Java technology-enabled i-mode phone this year.
In a similar deal, PUMA TECHNOLOGY, INC. has licensed its Intellisync Anywhere software to NTT MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK, INC. for use in its i-mode infrastructure. The San Jose, California firm's program automatically keeps the information held by mobile devices in sync with that stored in master data bases. By this fall, Intellisync Anywhere will give i-mode users automatic and constant access to the latest information on things like train and airline schedules, entertainment tickets and stock prices as well as personal data such as appointments, phone numbers and addresses. .....Separately, PUMA TECHNOLOGY, INC., which opened a wholly owned subsidiary last summer, announced that it had selected SOFTBANK CORP. to market, distribute and support Intellisync Anywhere to corporate Japan. Softbank also will handle relations with local value-added resellers and integrators interested in the automatic synchronization software for mobile devices.
In yet another wireless mobile communications deal, UNWIRED PLANET, INC. has licensed its Wireless Application Protocol-compatible microbrowser to MATSUSHITA COMMUNICATION INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. This company will incorporate the Redwood City, California firm's UP.Browser into its entire line of next-generation wireless mobile phones sold under the Panasonic brand. UP.Browser currently supports GSM (global system for mobile communications), TDMA (time-division multiple access), PDC (personal digital communications), PHS and cdmaOne wireless protocols. Unwired Planet is preparing modules to support next-generation standards now under development.
GEMSTAR INTERNATIONAL GROUP LTD., big ad agency DENTSU INC. and TOKYO NEWS SERVICE LTD., the publisher of entertainment magazines, including the Japanese version of TV Guide, have formed INTERACTIVE PROGRAM GUIDE INC. to offer interactive television services throughout Japan. The joint venture hopes that the Pasadena, California firm's G- Guide Gold electronic program guide (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 344, May 1998, p. 14) will become an advertising, promotion, sponsorship and transaction platform favored by Japanese households. G- Guide Gold already allows users to view a television program guide on- screen, find details about shows, sort shows by themes or categories, and select shows for recording all by using a remote control. Gemstar has a 50 percent interest in Interactive Program Guide. Dentsu put up 42.5 percent of the firm's capital and Tokyo News Service the balance.
HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. has released a package designed to both improve the performance of electrocardiogram machines and simplify the process of taking ECG readings. The $1,200 EASI software runs on HEWLETT-PACKARD CO.'s Viridia CMS family of patient monitors. It allows 12-lead ECGs to be made with only five electrodes attached to the patient. Since this is half the number of electrodes that other systems use, EASI provides better data while lightening the burden of ECG tests on both patients and administering nurses.
In a move designed to gain better control over its Asian distribution strategy, PHARMACOPEIA, INC. recently bought out equal partner TEIJIN LTD. in TEIJIN MOLECULAR SIMULATIONS INC. TMSI, established in 1992, is the distributor of MOLECULAR SIMULATIONS INC. software in Japan and elsewhere in Asia. Pharmacopeia acquired MSI in June 1998. As part of the approximately $10 million deal with Teijin, the Princeton, New Jersey company also purchased Teijin's distribution rights to MSI software in Japan. TMSI has been renamed MOLECULAR SIMULATIONS K.K. Asia accounted for roughly 20 percent of Pharmacopeia's MSI software sales in 1998. ..... At the same time, MOLECULAR SIMULATIONS K.K. reached an agreement in principle with RYOKA SYSTEMS INC. to make the wholly owned MITSUBISHI CHEMICAL CORP. subsidiary the exclusive distributor of its medical simulation software in Japan. Under the pact, Ryoka has agreed to boost sales of the molecular modeling, simulation and informatics software over the next two years. For the last decade, Ryoka was the main local subdistributor of MSI products.
ECHELON CORP. has announced that KINDEN CORP., OBAYASHI CORP., SHIMIZU CORP. and TAKASAGO THERMAL ENGINEERING CO., LTD. have become the newest authorized integrators of the Palo Alto, California firm's facilities control network software and hardware, LonWorks and LonPoint. Open-standards LonWorks already controls buildings, factories and facilities like dams around the world. The four engineering and construction firms will design, install and maintain LonPoint systems, which combine control hardware with LonWorks. Kinden, partnered with another Japanese firm, already has won a contract from KANSAI ELECTRIC POWER CO., INC., its top shareholder, to install LonWorks at one of the big utility's generating facilities.
To help hoteliers in Japan maximize the use of their resources, REZSOLUTIONS INC. and NEC CORP. will combine the Phoenix, Arizona firm's RezView central reservation system with NEC's NEHOPS property- management system. The merged CRS/PMS program will give users a complete view of a hotel's room inventory. It will have a fully localized front-end based on REZsolutions' WinAI and NetREZ interfaces. Not only have the two inked a sales, service and cobranding agreement to support the new integrated system, but they also have decided to develop an Internet booking system that will link authorized local travel agents into the new network.
To better pursue the geographical information systems market, INTERGRAPH CORP. has spun out INTERGRAPH COMPUTER SYSTEM JAPAN K.K. from its wholly owned subsidiary. ICSJ has released English-language versions of GeoWeb Map, an Internet-based map search and display software, as well as GeoMedia Network, which plots out the most efficient routes for transit or transport applications. Japanese-language versions are promised for the end of this year.
Hoping to keep its place at the head of on-line video gaming, VR-1, INC. acquired game developer POW GAMES CO., LTD. and transformed the Tokyo developer of more than 100 games for multiple platforms into its Japanese subsidiary and the headquarters of the Boulder, Colorado firm's Asian operations. VR-1 JAPAN INC.'s first task will be to prepare its parent's VR-1 Conductor technology, which allows large numbers of players to contest with each other simultaneously on-line, for the debut of Internet-enabled, next-generation game consoles planned by SEGA ENTERPRISES, LTD. and SONY CORP. VR-1 Japan also will handle local licensing arrangements.
IMS HEALTH of Westport, Connecticut has decided to focus on its core competency health-care and pharmaceutical information systems by selling its local ERP marketing subsidiary, SSJ K.K., to ARGOTECHNOS 21 CORP. of Tokyo for a reported $5.8 million. Both SSJ and IMS Health were spun out when COGNIZANT CORP. streamlined its business lines in 1996 and 1998, respectively.
An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.
Months behind schedule, the local affiliate of ORBCOMM GLOBAL, L.P. launched commercial two-way monitoring, tracking and messaging services through a network of low-earth-orbit satellites (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 346, July 1998, p. 28). ORBCOMM JAPAN LTD. hopes to sign up 5,000 businesses in the initial year of operation and to be producing annual revenues of $25 million within three years. Customers have to pay about $1,700 for a handset, plus monthly usage charges ranging between $12.50 and about $42. The delay in start up was attributed to the collapse of trader OKURA & CO., LTD., the leading Japanese shareholder in ORBCOMM Japan. However, industry sources said that the company was having trouble attracting subscribers. ORBCOMM Global, now the top investor in ORBCOMM Japan, is a partnership between ORBITAL SCIENCES CORP. of Dulles, Virginia and Canada's TELEGLOBE INC.
In a deal valued at $38 million, ORBITAL IMAGING CORP. gave NTT DATA CORP. exclusive rights to market in Japan high-resolution imagery from OrbView-3 and OrbView-4, which are scheduled for launch this year and next. The contract commits NTT Data to purchase and distribute a minimum of $25 million worth of imagery over five years. The big data communications company also must buy a $13 million or so ORBIMAGE ground station to receive and process OrbView images. The pair of satellites will provide 1-meter-resolution panchromatic (black and white) and 4-meter-resolution multispectral (color) imagery. NTT Data hopes the arrangement with the ORBITAL SCIENCES CORP. affiliate will make it the leader of Japan's GIS industry.
In a new agreement, competitor SPACE IMAGING INC. gave the National Space Development Agency the exclusive right to receive and process satellite imagery received from two Indian remote-sensing satellites for distribution in Japan. NASDA's commercial arm, the Remote Sensing Technology Center of Japan, actually will handle marketing and sales of the 5-meter-resolution panchromatic and 20-meter-resolution multispectral images. A ground station in Kumamoto prefecture that Tokai University operates will collect the imagery from the two Indian satellites. Space Imaging, which recently signed a pact with MITSUBISHI CORP. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 353, February 1999, p. 31), has had exclusive rights since 1995 to market and distribute imagery from the satellites outside India.
The nationwide rollout of commercial CDMA digital cellular service, started last summer (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 347, August 1998, p. 26), will be finished this spring. In late March, three more of DDI CORP.'s regional affiliates began service under the cdmaOne name in the areas of Shikoku, Hokuriku and Chugoku. In April, two other DDI regional services providers and NIPPON IDOU TSUSHIN CORP., which serves Tokyo and areas south, will launch the last parts of the nationwide network. The whole system uses base stations and mobile switches supplied by MOTOROLA INC.
In the latest contract in a series dating back to 1995, SYMBOL TECHNOLOGIES, INC. is providing a 2-MB version of its Spectrum24 radio to the Retail Systems Division of FUJITSU, LTD. for integration into wireless data communications products. The Holtsville, New York company's Spectrum24 open-architecture wireless network is said to provide high- performance data as well as voice-over-IP communications with excellent immunity to interference. Its frequency-hopping technology ensures robust and reliable data throughput, while the encryption capabilities of the Spectrum24 provide data security.
Asian market newcomer XEDIA CORP., a supplier of Internet access routers, has named SUMISHO ELECTRONICS CO., LTD. to distribute its Access Point products in Japan. The Littleton, Massachusetts start-up describes its line as a new class of Internet access router, one that gives network providers the performance, security and service level control required for the next generation of business-class Internet services. Sumisho Electronics already has installed Access Point products at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto to provide prioritization and policy control for Web hosting and other kinds of network traffic.
Metropolitan area network architectures were optimized in the past for voice traffic. Now, they need to be able to handle IP traffic that is growing by leaps and bounds in a scalable, robust and cost-effective way. CISCO SYSTEMS, INC.'s answer is the Dynamic Packet Transport family of packet-optimized transport solutions. DPT delivers high-bandwidth, resilient fiber rings optimized to carry large and fast-expanding volumes of packet traffic. Its subsidiary has priced the DPT line card for the company's 12000 GSR equipment from $30,800. .....Responding similarly to service providers' need for an easy way to deliver legacy voice services while still being prepared to offer IP services, CISCO SYSTEMS, INC. introduced the Cisco ISR 3303. This access platform, which starts at $40,000, provides SONET/SDH (synchronous digital hierarchy) interoperability and, at the same time, reduces costs.
In mid-June, IBM JAPAN LTD. will begin shipments of its parent's self- described branch office in a box. Otherwise known as the IBM 2212 Access Utility but sold in Japan as part of the Nways family, the four models and the seven adapters making up the line allow easy connections between a company's LAN and its mobile work force via remote LANs or between branch offices and the Internet or the corporate backbone using advanced, multiprotocol virtual private networks. The IBM 2212 Access Utility, which ranges in price from $2,100 to $12,800, also gives businesses the flexibility to expand to meet future networking needs.
What are billed as the broadcasting industry's fastest video servers for both satellite and terrestrial-based digital transmission are being shipped by HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. The key to this claim is the use of Fibre Channel networking technology in the HP MediaStream servers 700 and 1600. This enables them to provide transfer rates that are as much as 45 times faster than real time. The additions to the HP MediaStream line also offer immediate on-line access to more than 1,000 hours of stored video material from a single chassis that can house up to seven channels (the 700 model) or 16 channels (the 1600 model). Pricing for the entry-level HP MediaStream servers begins at $125,000. Nonetheless, HP Japan has penciled in sales of about 50 systems a year.
In a deal that could help a struggling DIRECTV JAPAN INC. sign up more customers (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 354, March 1999, p. 32) while allowing METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER INC.'s expansion-minded MGM International Television Distribution unit to move into Japan's growing pay-for-view market, the two have signed a multiyear contract. Under it, DirecTV Japan has the right to air current and upcoming MGM and United Artists films on a pay-for-view basis as well as any of their theatrical products released since December 1997.
An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.
Attempting to extend its sales of children's wear to casual clothing from just sports apparel, REEBOK INTERNATIONAL LTD.'s subsidiary tied up with a Kyoto-based wholesaler that is strong in this area. Starting with fall/winter merchandise, Reebok will market two lines of T-shirts and other tops through GRACE CO., LTD. One line of clothing ranges in price from $16 to $24, while products in the other cost between $24 and $49. Reebok hopes the new distribution tie-up will produce annual revenues of $20.8 million after three years. Its children's sports apparel has been available at just a limited number of specialty stores.
An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.
As part of a multifaceted strategy to pump life into its slumping Japanese sales, FORD MOTOR CO. is buying out MAZDA MOTOR CORP.'s 45.1 percent share in FORD SALES JAPAN LTD. That company is the primary retail channel for imported Ford vehicles as well as Ford-badged cars developed and built by Mazda. With the purchase, FORD MOTOR CO. (JAPAN) LTD., which is in charge of imports, distribution and predelivery inspection, will own 90.2 percent of the sales unit. It plans to make Ford Sales a wholly owned subsidiary by acquiring the shares now owned by nine other companies. The U.S. automotive maker bought into the predecessor of Ford Sales in 1989. Ford and Mazda have each had a 45.1 percent stake in the dealer network since January 1993. Buying out Mazda's share reportedly will cost Ford more than $83.3 million, but in one sense, the payment just represents a transfer since the American company owns one-third of Mazda. Sales of Ford nameplates in Japan, most of which are built locally, tumbled to only 22,000 or so last year from a peak of 88,000 vehicles in 1990.
In another effort to turn around sales, FORD SALES JAPAN LTD. is offering round-the-clock emergency road service to buyers of its vehicles. The help is free to customers for the first three years after their purchase. .....FORD SALES JAPAN LTD. also has in its showrooms three versions of the redesigned right-hand-drive Explorer sport-utility vehicle. The two-door and four-door models, which include the Eddie Bauer edition, include such improvements as side-impact airbags. Ford Sales hopes to sell 2,600 Explorers over the next year.
GENERAL MOTORS CORP. and its importer/distributor/retailer, YANASE & CO., LTD., plan to cooperate more closely on marketing. Better information exchange is a primary goal. Yanase sells not only Cadillac and Chevrolet vehicles but also cars made by GM affiliates ADAM OPEL AG and SAAB AUTOMOBILE AB. It is projecting sales of 44,140 GM vehicles in the year through September 30, up 18 percent from the October 1997-September 1998 period.
An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.
BRISTOL-MYERS SQUIBB CO. has assigned its Tokyo research center greater responsibility for developing the company's personal-care business not only in Japan but elsewhere in Asia as well. The R&D facility already has adapted Clairol Herbal Essences shampoo and conditioner for the Japanese market. It now is working on body washes and facial cleansing products. Moreover, BMS's local research center has modified a body lotion for Asian marketing, starting in Thailand.
In a switch in strategy, the Warner Advanced Media Operations unit of TIME WARNER INC., which handles the entertainment giant's DVD (digital video disc) manufacturing, has outsourced the supply of DVD software titles for the Japanese market to ADVANCED MEDIA CORP. The Tokushima prefecture company, which specializes in DVD content, will launch volume production in June after two months of trial operations at a plant it built to fill the contract from Olyphant, Pennsylvania-based WAMO. AMC expects to turn out 4 million DVDs, mostly with movies, in 1999 and 36 million in 2003.
Home builders in Japan have a new option in door facings, the CraftMaster line of door designs from MASONITE CORP. Its molded door facings are made from 1/8-inch-thick high-density fiberboard molded under intense heat and pressure into a variety of designs. The Chicago-based company has named SEIKEN CORP. as its representative. Masonite also has tapped SANYO ELECTRIC CO., LTD. as the first of what it hopes will be five or six distributors. If it can line up the desired distribution channels, the wholly owned INTERNATIONAL PAPER CO. unit believes that sales of CraftMaster molded door facings could jump to $25 million in 2003 from a projected $2.5 million in 1999.
Three years after it gave FURUKAWA TECHNO MATERIAL CO., LTD. exclusive rights to distribute its Phos-Chek WD 881 fire-extinguishing agent, the Ontario, California fire safety business of SOLUTIA INC. expects the Fire Defense Agency of the Ministry of Home Affairs to approve the product for marketing any day now. Phos-Chek WD 881 is a foam-forming water additive designed for use on fires in such everyday combustible materials as wood, cloth, paper, rubber and many plastics. Since the foam excelled at extinguishing fires during testing, Kanagawa prefecture-based Furukawa Techno expects sales of Phos-Chek WD 881 to develop quickly into a $25 million annual business.
Looking for ways however small to improve its shaky sales position in Japan, the subsidiary of flat glass manufacturer GUARDIAN INDUSTRIES CORP. will start recycling the pallets used to transport glass. The company, which mainly sells glass made at a Guardian plant in Thailand, expects this move to cut distribution costs by roughly 10 percent while, at the same time, saving retailers the expense of disposing of the pallets. Beginning this summer, the company will pick up empty pallets from retailers at no charge and return them to Thailand. Guardian's marketing arm also is talking about introducing a new type of pallet that is less expensive to ship and easier for retailers to store.
A new membership-based shopping service is coming to Japan, thanks to a tie-up between the subsidiaries of E4L, INC. (formerly National Media Corp.), the king of infomercials, and CENDANT CORP. Through its own infomercials and telemarketing affiliates, E4L'S QUANTUM INTERNATIONAL JAPAN CO., LTD. unit will market the catalog-based shopping service, while CENDANT JAPAN CO., LTD. will provide the products and handle customer relations. People will be able to order most of the products without joining the service, but they will not receive the guaranteed low prices that members get. Los Angeles-headquartered E4L also says that it is committed to developing an Internet-based shopping service for Japan.
MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL, INC. will provide its expertise in hotel management to the JR Tokai Hotels unit of CENTRAL JAPAN RAILWAY CO., which in May 2000 will open a 53-story, 800-room hotel with an attached 51-story office tower in Nagoya. JR Tokai Hotels currently operates two hotels, but both are small compared with the one being built as part of the new Nagoya railway station. Marriott will share the considerable knowledge it has gained from managing a varied list of lodging brands in the United States and abroad, with particular emphasis on hotel layout, guest management and employee training.
Corporate restructuring in Japan is fast making career transition consulting a growth business. RIGHT MANAGEMENT CONSULTANTS, INC., which specializes in these services, wants to get in at an early stage. The Philadelphia company has an agreement in principle to acquire a 20 percent interest in WAY STATION, INC. The first Japanese firm set up specifically to help people who have lost their jobs prepare for new positions, it has offices in Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka and Fukuoka. Right Management expects the deal to be finalized in June.
Corporate restructuring also will increase the demand for executive recruitment services. At least that is what A.T. KEARNEY INC. believes. The big Chicago-based international management consulting firm is putting together a team that will place senior executives in positions in such fields as high technology industry and finance.
With the government attempting to rein in fast-increasing health-care costs, managed care is expected to develop into another growth business. Major accounting and consulting firm KPMG PEAT MARWICK LLP reportedly will move into this field this summer. Along with CENTURY AUDIT CORP., two of its subsidiaries will advise hospitals and operators of corporate health-insurance plans on tests and procedures that are efficacious but also cost-reducing. The information on which the advice will be based will be drawn from the experience of Minneapolis-based UNITEDHEALTH GROUP, which has compiled data bases of effective treatments for a variety of medical problems.
IMRGLOBAL CORP., a Clearwater, Florida-based international provider of information technology services, paid approximately $51 million to acquire FUSION SYSTEMS JAPAN CO., LTD. A business and technology consulting company located in Tokyo, it has a division focused on the capital markets businesses in Japan and in the Asian Pacific, a division that offers IT consulting services to companies in Japan and elsewhere in Asia and a division that provides voice and data infrastructure solutions. Fusion, founded in 1992, had revenues of $12 million or so in 1998. The acquisition marks IMRglobal's direct entry into the world's second-largest market for IT services.
An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.