Privatization of JR Tokai complete after 20 years

The Japan Railway Construction, Transport and Technology Agency said Wednesday it has sold all of its 12.77 percent stake in Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai), completing the privatization of the firm 20 years after the breakup of the Japanese National Railways.

The Nagoya-based JR Tokai is the third JR group firm to be fully privatized. East Japan Railway Co. became free of government ownership in June 2002 and West Japan Railway Co. was fully privatized in March 2004.

The independent administrative agency sold all of its 286,071 JR Tokai shares for 1.15 million yen each Wednesday morning during off-hours trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

JR Tokai bought most of the shares.

About 328.9 billion yen in proceeds from the sale will help finance pension benefits for former JNR employees.

The agency sold the first batch of JR Tokai shares for 359,000 yen each in 1997. The price rose to 795,000 yen per share in 2005. The latest price, 1.15 million yen, is the highest, reflecting a robust stock market.

The government broke up JNR in 1987 into seven firms, including the three companies that went public between 1993 and 1997.

The remaining four — JR Hokkaido Co., JR Shikoku Co., JR Kyushu Co. and JR Freight Co. — are still fully owned by the agency.

The agency has no specific schedule for those four carriers to go public.