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Cash-rich Chinese firms urged to take acquisition trail to Japan

By Ding Qingfen (China Daily)

13:32, August 07, 2012

It's been five years since Haier, the giant Chinese home appliance manufacturer, transferred its Asia-Pacific headquarters to Tokyo - and it's one of the best decisions the company has ever made, according to its Vice-President Du Jingguo.

"There are so many business opportunities in Japan, not only for big Chinese companies like ours, but also for small and medium-sized ones," said Du.

As financial pressures grip so many parts of the globe, Du said that it's a comfort to know that Japan remains in such good shape, despite the natural disaster which it suffered last year.

He said at a time when so many companies in China are being encouraged to look overseas for new business opportunities, as the economy at home slows, Japan is still teeming with opportunities that are too good to ignore.

"Japanese companies are packed with talent and many possess just the kind of qualities that appeals to Chinese business.

"We share high levels of technology, innovation and have the same business culture," added Du.

However, Japan is certainly not immune from the same economic pressures afflicting other parts of the world.

The third-largest economy is still recovering from last year's devastating earthquake and tsunami and nuclear crisis.

Recent data showed that Japan, one of the world's top exporters, is not exporting nearly as much as it used to, hurt too by a strong currency, which is making the country's products expensive to foreign buyers.

The Bank of Japan has forecast the country's economy will grow 2.2 percent this year and 1.7 percent the following year, and many Japanese companies are at the brink of bankruptcy.

"Japan's economic activity has started picking up moderately as domestic demand remains firm, supported mainly by reconstruction-related demand" following last year's natural disasters, the Bank of Japan has said.

"(But) there remains a high degree of uncertainty about the global economy, including the prospects for the European debt problem ... (and) the momentum toward a recovery for the US economy."

"For some companies from China looking to invest, the time could be fantastic to come here," added Du.

"There are so many good assets here, and we want to buy them up - but unfortunately, it's just not as easy as that," he said.

Haier has been highly successful in its Japanese ambitions in recent years.

In 2011, Haier and the Japanese electronics company Sanyo signed a memorandum of understanding about Haier's acquisition of Sanyo's refrigerator, washing machine and other electrical appliance businesses in Japan and some Southeast Asian nations.
Haier has two research centers and four manufacturing bases in Asia, and targets sales revenues worth 50 billion yen ($635 million) in Japan this year, up from last year's 10.8 billion yen.

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