TT-484 -- Rising Tide of International M&As, ebiz news from Japan

* * * * * * * * * T E R R I E 'S T A K E * * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd.
(http://www.terrie.com)

General Edition Sunday, September 8, 2008 Issue No. 484

+++ INDEX

- What's new
- News
- Candidate roundup/Vacancies
- Upcoming events
- Corrections/Feedback
- News credits

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+++ WHAT'S NEW

As the yen once again firms against the US dollar, foreign
investors are once again coming to the realization that
Japan has already been through its major financial
correction (starting 16 years ago), and that what hasn't
gone up doesn't have so far to fall. Money is flooding in
to government securities as a safe haven, and although the
Nikkei stocks are still following the overseas markets
downwards, the losses are smaller compared to other Asian
bourses.

At the same time, Japanese banks are in relatively good
shape compared to their foreign counterparts, and this
means they have money to lend. Japanese manufacturers and
exporters are taking advantage of the relatively calm
conditions back home compared to the roiled markets
overseas and are shopping around the world, but primarily
in developed counties, to do tie-ups and buy-ups.

We've been predicting a strong pick-up in Japanese-led M&As
for a while now, and the volume of deals over the last two
months proves that we are now in the midst of a major
trend. As we have been saying, there are literally hundreds
of listed companies who are also exporters, that have
socked away cash for 4-5 years and now have a billion or
two (dollars) to spend on foreign growth by acquisition.
The Nikkei reckons that Japanese firms are sitting on
around JPY60trn (US$545bn) in surplus cash and that's no
chicken feed.

[Continued below...]

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[...Article continues]

Most of this excess cash has been earned from the Japan ->
China -> US/Asia export boom that ran from from 2003
through 'til last year. Initially the cash went into
getting debt levels down, then into building or
modernizing manufacturing plants, sprucing up R&D (many
listed firms are spending up to 5% of sales on R&D), and
now on M&A war-chests. Employees are getting very little
of the cash, unless they happen to be scientists.

At the same time, the general pessimism pervading the
international markets, and the struggle by overseas
consumer-products companies in particular to deal with the
downturn, means that there are plenty of targets out there.
In a way, many of the deals are starting to look like a
game of chess. This was well demonstrated in the
announcement by Ricoh that it would acquire major U.S. Office
Automation company Ikon. In making the acquisition, not
only does Ricoh get to gain control over its biggest U.S.
distributor, but it also lops off one of competitor Canon's
major reseller networks (40% of their sales go through
Ikon) as well.

The slew of M&As in progress and announcements of those
pending over the last couple of months is really quite
impressive. Among the bigger ones were pharmaceutical firm
Sankyo's JPY500bn (US$4.7bn) acquisition of India's Ranbaxy
Labs in August (announced in June), TDK's JPY200bn takeover
of German electronic parts firm Epcos in July, Tokyo
Marine's JPY500bn July announcement to take over
Philadelphia Consolidated Holding -- the largest financial
market cross-border deal by a Japanese firm, and Sony's
pending US$900m takeover of Bertelsmann's stake in Sony BMG
Music Entertainment.

Then in only the first 7 days of September, we have already
had M&A announcements almost daily, including Pharmaceutical
firm Shionogi's planned JPY147bn takeover of US-based
Sciele Pharma, apparel firm Onward's JPY26.4bn takeover of
the German Jil Sander fashion brand, and OA maker Ricoh's
JPY170bn takeover of Ikon. Further down the food chain,
smaller deals are also picking up pace.

As well, there are those companies which haven't acted yet,
but are pronouncing quite massive M&A funds for the coming
12 months. Kirin for example, has said that it has
allocated JPY300bn (US$2.8bn) for M&A, NEC says it has set
aside JPY500bn (US$4.7bn), and plastics firm Kuraray says
it has JPY200bn (US$1.9bn) allocated. Indeed, the Nikkei
says that about 40% of listed firms have surplus cash and
we calculate this to mean about 1,400 firms.

A typical smart smaller acquisition is one made this week
by commercial refrigeration maker Hoshizaki. This fairly
conservative company has decided to buy a Danish competitor
called Gram Commercial A/S for JPY8.6bn (US$81m). Like its
counterparts, Hoshizaki is paying a fairly rich price --
around 125% of sales, or, our guess, around 6 times pre-tax
profits. Hoshizaki is trying to aggressively expand its
international business because sales of commercial freezers
and refrigerators have pretty much stagnated in Japan.
Prior to the Gram acquisition, 23.8% of sales came from
overseas, and post-purchase through to 2012, that number
will jump to 34%.

There is no data on where Hoshizaki is getting the money
from, but in keeping with the general trend it was probably
good old fashioned bank debt, and so they are probably
paying 1.5%~1.8% interest on it. This makes the deal
economics hold up pretty well, in that to get an extra
JPY1.4bn or so of annual pretax profit, they are paying
just JPY130m or so of interest charges. Of course there's
always the chance that things could go "south" on them, in
that Gram may have hidden problems. But for the time being
anyway, this deal should have a very beneficial effect on
Hoshizaki's IPO slated later this year here in Japan.

What does all this activity means for the rest of us? Well,
certainly if the target firm is a correct fit and has
either a compelling sales or IP story, then now would be
a good time for foreign sellers to start reaching out to
Japan. Making contact can be as straightforward as
contacting the Business Development or M&A team in the
desired acquirer, although a board-level introduction
is typically a lot more productive. Having said this, the
caveat is that most of these acquisitions have come after
the two companies involved have been doing business for a
while and have come to trust each other. So a better first
step for foreign firms is to do a business tie-up first.

Since there are also many readers in the professional
services sector, clearly these deals need a substantial
amount of work to put together. This represents opportunity
for deal origination consultants, M&A bankers (of course),
translators, lawyers, patent and trademark attorneys,
recruiters, private detectives, realtors, PR and IR
specialists, labor law specialists, training companies, and
many others besides. If you're in one of these industries,
your firm should be watching the newspapers and making
sales approaches.

...The information janitors/

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-----------------------------------------------------------

+++ NEWS

- Tainted rice from China
- Occupational hazard for monks
- Economy shrank 4% in Q1
- Some pork for farmers
- NEC allocates JPY500bn for foreign investments and M&A

-> Tainted rice from China

Once again food security and sourcing unfit product from
China has come to light. This time, mochi maker Mikasa
Foods of Osaka was found to have imported 295 tonnes of
rice originally intended for industrial use (for what, we
wonder?) in 2006 and 2007, but instead used it to produce
mochi and senbei crackers. The tainted rice apparently had
over five times the permitted level of pesticide
methamidophos present. (Source: TT commentary from
dailytimes.com.pk, Sept 6, 2008)

http://tinyurl.com/6888ob

-> Occupational hazard for monks

In an unfortunate incident worthy of an aesop's fable, a
monk in Niigata trying to smoke hornets out of his temple
building dropped his burning torch after the enraged
insects turned on him. The temple caught light and
subsequently burned to the ground. The monk avoided getting
stung, but suffered some facial burns instead. (Source: TT
commentary from ap.google.com, Sept 8, 2008)

http://tinyurl.com/5sertn

-> Economy shrank 4% in Q1

Finance Ministry figures show that capital spending by
companies fell 6.1% in the period April through June this
year, and financial experts are saying that it is likely
that the nation's real GDP probably shrank somewhere
between 2.6% and 4.5%. If they are correct, and we'll find
out when the Cabinet Office issues its figures this week,
then this is the biggest economic contraction since Q2 of
2001. (Source: TT commentary from nikkei.co.jp, Sept 6, 2008)

http://www.nni.nikkei.co.jp/AC/TNKS/Nni20080905D05JFA08.htm

-> Some pork for farmers

While most of the upcoming stimulus package consists of
loans and guarantees for small to medium-sized companies,
there is none-the-less a smidgen of pork grease for the
LDP's most favored voter bloc, the farmers. The government
appears ready to offer around JPY285bn (US$2.7bn) in
subsidies to help off-set the costs of fuel and
fertilizer, and to restore land damaged in the most recent
spate of storms. The Agriculture Ministry also plans to
allow farmers to privately lease and sell property to try
to make the sector more efficient. Realtors will for the
first time be allowed to broker such transactions, instead
of channeling them through the old-boy network of
agricultural cooperatives. (Source: TT commentary from
bloomberg.com, Sep 4, 2008)

http://tinyurl.com/6nv5s4

-> NEC allocates JPY500bn for foreign investments and M&A

Despite having only this year returned to profit, after 3
years of red ink, NEC has decided to join the ranks of
Japanese firms expanding their overseas operations by
allocating around JPY500bn for primarily foreign
investments and M&A. The company says that it wants to
increase its international sales from 25% last year to 30%.
Apparently the investment emphasis will be
telecommunications and software development. (Source: TT
commentary from nikkei.co.jp, Sept 6, 2008)

http://www.nni.nikkei.co.jp/AC/TNKS/Nni20080905D05JFA01.htm

NOTE: Broken links
Many online news sources remove their articles after just a
few days of posting them, thus breaking our links -- we
apologize for the inconvenience.

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***------------------------****-------------------------***

+++ CANDIDATE ROUND UP/VACANCIES

=> LINC Japan Ltd., an affiliate of the LINC Media group,
is actively marketing the following positions for market
entry customers setting up in Japan, as well as other
employers of bilinguals.

** HIGHLIGHTED POSITION(S)

BiOS is now searching for a skilled Change Management
Administrator to place into the IT operation of a well
known global financial organisation. The successful
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In addition to this you will be required to conduct
reviews of all local and global changes affecting services,
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We are especially eager to hear from individuals who
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have an excellent command of both English and Japanese,
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** POSITIONS VACANT

- Network Snr engr, large bank, JPY8m – JPY10m
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- Various Security Apps Administrators, JPY4.5 – JPY6m
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please email stuart.gibson@biosjp.com.

Interested individuals may e-mail resumes to:
stuart.gibson@biosjp.com

-----------------------------------------------------------

+++ UPCOMING EVENTS/ANNOUNCEMENTS

---------- International Business Awards Japan ------------

**J@pan Inc is pleased to announce the opening of nominations
for the International Business Awards Japan 2008**

Is your CEO or company worthy of recognition? The J@pan Inc
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------------------- YMCA Charity Ball ---------------------

YMCA/FCSC 2008 Grand Gala Charity Ball:

One of the international community's most anticipated
social events of the year, the FCSC will hold their 2008
Grand Gala Charity Ball on October 17th at the Hilton
Shinjuku.

This year's event will feature Beatlemania as the theme,
with one of Japan's best known cover bands, the Beatle
Dollar Band. The evening also features fine wine, five
course dinner, dancing, and a grand raffle draw.

The highlight of the evening will be a Live Auction
including a guitar signed by Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo
Starr, other rare Beatles memorabilia, a guitar signed by
Led Zeppelin, photos of Tiger Woods, Harry Potter items,
and many more sports, cinema, and rock memorabilia.

All proceeds go to benefit the YMCA's Challenged Children
Project (CCP). Donations are 25,000 yen/per person, with a
10% discount for table reservations (10 persons). Special
overnight accommodation is available at the Hilton only for
YMCA/FCSC guests.

Attendance is limited so please contact the FCSC office;
03-5367-6640, fcsc@ymcajapan.org for tickets and more
information.
-----------------------------------------------------------

----------------- ICA Event - Sept 11 ---------------------

Event: SUMMER NETWORKING PARTY!!

Topic: Joint event with ACCJ ICT Committee and the
Indian IT Club

Details: Complete event details at http://www.icajapan.jp/
(RSVP Required)

Date: Thursday, Sept 11, 2008
Time: 6:30-8:30pm - includes open bar and buffet
Cost: 6,000 yen (members), 7,000 yen (non-members)
Open to all: venue is Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan

http://www.fccj.or.jp/aboutus/map
-----------------------------------------------------------

--------------- Cricket in Hokkaido -----------------------

RidgeRunner Niseko International Cricket Competition
20-21 September 2008

Join us as a player, spectator or to party for two days of
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Hosted by international greats Dennis Lillee and Rod Marsh,
the event benefits the Tyler Foundation for Childhood Cancer
and Hokkaido International School through our Hokkaido-style-
glamor charity dinner dance and auction.

For more information, please visit www.ezocricketclub.com
or contact Billeigh Waaha 080-3597-6307
or e-mail cricket@rad-development.com

Thanks to our sponsors RidgeRunner, TK6, Paddy Foley's,
Commonwealth Bank, Green Leaf Hotel, National Australia Bank,
Hokkaido Tracks, Australian Meat and Livestock, ANZCCJ,
Village Cellars, Metropolis, Japan Inc, Peter Lehman Wines,
Black Diamond Lodge and Niseko Physio.
-----------------------------------------------------------

----------------- Marcus Evans Events ---------------------

Buyout and Leveraged Financing Japan 2008
Tokyo, Japan 10th and 11th Sept 2008

This conference on Buyout and Leveraged Financing Japan 2008
is well-timed and provides the opportunity for participants
to assess buyout and leveraged buyout activities in Japan.

It aims to explore the business opportunities for investors,
corporate needs of leverage over equity and also the market
for venture capitalists and private equities.

The event will also discuss the evolving relationships between
bankers, investors and sponsors.
Featuring distinguish speakers from Nomura Securities,
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Supported by: J@pan Inc Magazine, Japan PFI Association,
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JCN Newswire and Fraud Watch.

http://www.marcusevans.com/html/eventdetail.asp?eventID=14126&SectorID=2...
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______________________________________________________
Events announcements are priced at JPY50,000 per week.
For more information, contact sales at japaninc.com

***------------------------****-------------------------***

+++ CORRECTIONS/FEEDBACK

In this section we run comments and corrections submitted
by readers. We encourage you to spot our mistakes and
amplify our points, by email, to editors@terrie.com.

READER: In TT483, I read your email newsletter about the
government loan program for SMEs in Japan. I have
researched in Japanese and English but haven't been able to
find any information. Can you please tell me the specific
name of the program you were referring to, as well as any
URLs if available?

*** Our response: This is not a program you can ask for by
name. It's intrinsic to the system. If you apply through
the usual channels and you should find the process
generally easier than it was a few weeks ago. As a case in
point, our company just asked for a rather large sum that we
normally wouldn't get, and we were offered the entire
amount at an interest rate of just 1.86%. This happened on
Wednesday last week, after we ran the article.

The two places you should be going to for loans are:
1. Kokumin Seikatsu Kinyu Koko (National Life Finance
Corporation)
2. Your local bank -- preferrably one that you're already
doing business with

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-----------------------------------------------------------

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+++ ABOUT US

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Written by: Terrie Lloyd (terrie.lloyd@japaninc.com)

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