Mitsui & Co. , Ltd.

19/12/2001 (00:00)

Global History

Mitsui & Co is an extremely large and diversified company with a history stretching over 100 years, it is Japan's largest sogo shosha or conglomerate and one of the world's largest traders in metals, foodstuffs, chemicals and other commodities. It cannot be done justice with one small company profile, but to summarize Mitsui in their own words, the company identifies itself and its main business goal as facilitating international trades by providing transaction services and acting as an intermediary between the buyers and sellers who want to import, export or engage in offshore or domestic trading activities. The company prides itself on contributing to growth not only in Japan but in numerous other countries by creating new trade flows and making business investments in new enterprises and industrial sectors.

Mitsui & Co was first established in July 25, 1947 and it now has over 10,300 employees worldwide. It has 33 offices in Japan and 89 international offices. It covers 93 countries through overseas subsidiaries. Counting all subsidiaries and associated companies, the total comes to 882.

History in Turkey

Mitsui's history in Turkey began through a liaison office in 1956 which later became a limited concern in 1988. There are over 30 employees in Turkey and three offices, in Istanbul, Ankara and Tuzla free-zone. Out of Mitsui's extensive range of businesses, the Turkish office has a separate department for Chemicals, General Merchandise, Machinery, and Iron-Steel Products. Mitsui is also a 10% shareholder in Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Turkey which used to be ToyotaSA. It's also a 10% shareholder in MedUnion in Izmir, a container producer, in partnership with the Colakoglu group.

Within the Chemicals department, chemicals being the main focus for this report, the primary businesses covered in Turkey out of 20 identified areas include:

In addition, Mitsui in Turkey has supplied catalysts to Petkim for PE. The newly expanded HDPE plant has a Mitsui license and the planned PP expansion will also use a Mitsui license. They have also, from time to time, provided VCM to Petkim.

Product Range

Focusing on Mitsui's Chemicals division, the company provides nearly every conceivable product that a customer may require, these can be broken down into the following categories:

Basic petrochemicals
Synthetic fiber intermediates
Plastics resins
Plastics products
Specialty chemicals (Phenol, TDI, MDI, and LAB)
LifeSciences (agricultural/pharmaceutical chemicals, feed/food supplements and biotechnologies)
Specialty Plastics (engineering plastics, diamonds & plastics for electronics)
Inorganic basic raw materials and high-performance products for a wide variety of industries

In Turkey, Mitsui can offer nearly any required chemical product as listed above, however, focusing on polymers in Turkey, the majority of its sales are for specialty chemicals which are used in conjunction with the commodity polymers. The local office categorizes its main products as follows:

   1.  Automotive - PP compounds for bumper applications from Plalloy MTD B.V., the Netherlands and EPDM rubbers from Japan Synthetic Rubber, Japan. Hydrocarbon resins for the tire industry from Nippon-Zeon. PU systems for car seat applications from Mitsui Takeda Chemicals. Chloroprene rubber from Denka Chemicals.
   2.  Construction - PVC from Cires, Portugal, a joint venture between Mitsui, Shintech and Norsk Hydro. Impact modifiers from Kaneka Belgium and Alcamizers/Stabilizers from Kyowa/Kisuma Chemicals. Carbon Fibre from Toray/Soficar.
   3.  Packaging - Barrier resins from Eval Europe N.V., a subsidiary of the Kuraray Group. Tie resins from Mitsui Chemicals Europe. Very limited quantities of specialty HDPE from Mitsui Chemicals Inc. Limited quantities of PP from various sources.
   4.  Textile - Dyes from Mitsui BASF Dyes (MBD).
   5.  Shoes - Synthetic rubber from Japan Synthetic Rubber, Japan, Mitsui is the sole agent worldwide of polybutadiene rubber. SBS from various sources.

Mitsui supplies only very limited quantities of the commodity polymers to Turkey due to the fact that much of its production is located in Asia and due to logistics and the customs union it is often at a disadvantage to compete with nearby sources. However, Mitsui has expanded its PVC supply this year and expects new projects to become operational soon. This includes a capacity expansion at Cires, the PVC producer in Portugal.

  Targeted PVC supply to Turkey in 2002:

PVC 5,000 tons

Expansion Plans

Mitsui says it is 100% interested in developing further business in Turkey. The local office says that it is constantly looking for investment opportunities in Turkey particularly now as the value of the domestic assets has fallen in relation to the economic crisis which shook the country this year. For example, they would like to expand in automotive spare parts which even during this depressed year were very successful due to exports. It is also an area of focus since Mitsui provides all the raw materials needed.

Market Conditions

A representative with the Turkish office noted that the biggest future prospect is in food packaging because of the changes Turkey's retail industry is undergoing. The role of the supermarket chain is growing here and as it does the required shelf life will become even more important. For this reason, Mitsui also sees great growth potential for its barrier resins particularly as it is already a market leader for EVOH products produced by EVAL Europe in Belgium in the world.

ChemOrbis/Internet Strategy

Mitsui & Co is a believer in the fact that we are in an IT triggered industrial revolution and has committed itself to using technological developments in its business practices. The company believes in embracing new technology and reinventing themselves based on the new insights.

A representative from the Turkish office commented that they use the Internet extensively for research as it is a great tool for gathering and sharing information. He also pointed out that Mitsui as a company is interested in offering commodities to its customers through the Internet. For this reason, they plan to follow and increase their activities over time by participating in the auctions.

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