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Three Japan Traders Link Up

January 4, 2000

TOKYO (AP) _ Japan’s top trading houses have agreed to combine certain areas of their administrative operations to reduce costs, the three companies announced Tuesday.

Mitsubishi Corp., Mitsui and Co., and Sumitomo Corp. said they will join their fixed line telephone, public telephone, and remote access services in April.

The combination will reduce joint telecommunications costs by 25 percent annually, from the current combined level of $98 million, they said, citing an increasingly competitive business environment for the move.

The companies are also considering cooperating in personnel, accounting, and computer system operations, said Mitsubishi spokesman Yasuhito Hirota.

The three trading giants, however, won’t be working together in their sales divisions.

``We remain rivals, and we won’t cooperate on aspects that concern generating sales,″ Hirota said.

General trading houses all suffered a drop in sales in the first half of the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, due largely to a prolonged economic downturn in Japan.

Japan’s general traders played a major role in the country’s economic development after World War II, but have been hit by declining sales and profits in recent years.

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