Negotiating in Japan

The end of 2009 was very busy for AKI Japan. We supported strategic negotiations for two clients and negotiated agreements with suppliers from Europe and Asia. One interesting point arising from these various activities was the range of negotiating styles and targeted outcomes. These divided along national lines and again within national borders according to company culture. Hardly groundbreaking discoveries, I hear you say, and, of course, you’re right. But I found the experience and the outcomes interesting, not least because it all happened in a short time-period. I will write about this in more detail in future. Going into 2010 we see a lot of cross-border activity: VW-Suzuki, Peugeot-MMC, […]

Auto Supplier Consolidation

From the steamy heat of mid-August Osaka, o-hisashiburi (it’s been a while). Continuing on the consolidation theme, it’s interesting that there don’t appear to be any large Japanese funds buying up companies to drive consolidation. This is happening in the USA and Europe either driven by companies pursuing consolidation as a strategy or by funds assembled for the purpose. Is this because Japanese management shrewdly recognise the extreme difficulty in achieving real value from M&A activity, because they are simply too risk averse or because they recognise that they lack the breadth of management talent to make cross-border, post-merger integration work? Probably all of the above. In the past, this […]

Automotive Consolidation – Asian Influence

Ashvin Chotai of Intelligence Automotive Asia and I have just given a seminar at Chatham House in London on the outlook for automotive M&A activity in Asia and outbound from Asia. Although activity has dropped (90 deals in 2007, 30 in 2008), companies are still picking up some of the opportunities thrown up by the global turbulence. In the first quarter we saw purchases by Motherson Sumi – Visiocorp of Europe, Geely -DSI of Australia and BeijingWest – Delphi Brakes and Suspension business. Geely is now rumoured to be looking at SAAB. We expect to see more activity from Chinese and Indian companies although they face serious challenges in managing […]

Domestic Challenges for Japan's Automotive Industry

The blog name “Tsurezuregusa” is the title of a Japanese book written in the form of jottings and notes of the thoughts of a retired courtier in the 14th century. Donald Keene translated this as “Essays in Idleness”. From my long absence you may deduce either an excess or a lack of idleness. This month I’d like to share a few mental jottings and notes on some of challenges to the Japanese automotive industry which are less-visible from outside Japan. Whilst many of us are aware of the global-scale challenges such as maintaining technical competitiveness, managing global expansion and creating strategies for diverse markets, there are some interesting challenges on […]

Petrol Tax

Here’s an interesting demonstration of how things in Japan often follow a different logic from elsewhere. In the oil shock years of the 70’s, Japan imposed a temporary petrol tax to discourage excess consumption. Subsequently, throughout the (almost) uninterrupted rule of the LDP, the ruling governments forgot to repeal the “temporary” tax despite the fall in oil prices. Not such a serious problem as not many people use their cars for work here. The daily commute is usually by train or bicycle for most people. Suddenly, though, this month, the government, facing a situation similar to the oil shock- oil $100 a barrel, has decided to repeal the “temporary” tax. […]