Sumitomo Corp. to take control of Soda Ash Japan

Sumitomo Corp. will turn its 50:50 joint venture Soda Ash Japan into a wholly owned subsidiary by acquiring the shares owned by Asahi Glass. The share transfer is to be completed in April 2007. Soda A…

Sumitomo Corp. will turn its 50:50 joint venture Soda Ash Japan into a wholly owned subsidiary by acquiring the shares owned by Asahi Glass. The share transfer is to be completed in April 2007. Soda Ash Japan imports soda ash from the USA. Sumitomo sees it as important to strengthen its competitiveness in the business by centralizing operations to speed up the management process. The company considers its glass-related materials business as core to its basic-chemicals business division. By contrast, Asahi Glass is shifting its attention to its fluorochemicals business. Domestic demand for soda ash is estimated at 900,000 tons/annum, having fallen by about 30,000 tons in 2006 with the shrinking of its main application in glass containers and the suspension of domestic production of cathode-ray-tube televisions. About half of Japan“s soda ash needs are met locally and the other half by imports from the US and China. US imports now account for more than 300,000 tons/annum, while Chinese imports, which recently increased, make up the remainder. The two companies founded Soda Ash Japan in 2004 to streamline and raise their competitiveness in the soda ash business. Annual sales currently stand at about JPY 5 billion (USD 43.5 million).