U.S. funds may aid Kokusai Kogyo

U.S. investment funds Cerberus Group and Colony Capital are among the firms that have stepped forward as candidates to rescue Kokusai Kogyo Co., the parent of several Sheraton hotels and other ritzy hotels at home and abroad, industry sources said Saturday.

Cerberus has recently proposed becoming a corporate sponsor of Kokusai Kogyo, a large borrower of the UFJ banking group, to help it rehabilitate and ride out 330 billion yen in interest-bearing debts, they said.

The UFJ group and other creditors are considering selling Cerberus approximately 500 billion yen in their combined stakes in Kokusai Kogyo, they said.

Kokusai Kogyo was founded in 1940 by business tycoon Kenji Osano, who was renowned for his close ties with former Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka. In addition to its main business of bus operations, the Kokusai Kogyo group of about 50 companies has run a range of businesses, including management of Sheraton Waikiki and other Sheraton hotels, as well as the famous Fujiya Hotel in the hot spa resort of Hakone.