Goldman Sachs: Impressing Impress

Back to Contents of Issue: January 2000

by Noriko Takezaki

Goldman Sachs made its first equity investment in a Japanese company in October 1999, selecting impress, a leading publisher of technology- and entertainment-related print and online magazines in Japan, as the recipient of some ¥1.1 billion.

The publishing company increased its capital to around ´yen;2.6 billion, receiving additional investments from other Japanese venture firms, including NIF (Nippon Investment Finance), JAFCO, and Nippon Venture Capital. Among them, Goldman is the largest investor, but holds only a 6.44% stake in the company. "Considering our global business development, we believe that having one of the world's prominent investment banks as our investor will give us an advantage," says Keiichiro Tsukamoto, president of impress. "In the Japanese market, the entry of more American companies is expected, particularly in the Internet business field. In order to compete with such companies, we need to have successful business know-how in the global environment." In addition to the investment, a representative from Goldman Sachs attends board meetings at impress.

Meanwhile, Shirley Lin, an executive director of Goldman Sachs (Asia), stated, "Given the company's leading position in online publishing and e-commerce in Japan, we are very confident it is superbly positioned to take full advantage of the ongoing Internet revolution there."

In March this year, impress plans to make an IPO on the TSE's Mothers (Market of the High-growth and Emerging Stocks). Tsukamoto said that impress had tried to make an IPO on Nasdaq in 1998. After consulting with several securities companies in the U.S., however, he decided not to make a debut there, "because we had been concerned that the aggregate market value of our company in the U.S. would not be higher, since Japanese companies are in the minority in the American stock markets, and it wouldn't give us any advantage strategically," he said.

The purpose of impress's capital increase at this time is to "prepare for new media/services in the Internet era, in which the methodology of traditional media wouldn't work well."

By March 2002, impress plans to grow its business from the current ¥13.1 billion to ¥30 billion, and to change its ratio of print media vs. electronic media to 50:50 from the current 85:15.

Noriko Takezaki is senior editor at J@pan Inc.

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