Nakamura named Sumitomo CEO

Bloomberg

Sumitomo Corp., Japan’s third-most profitable trading company, named Kuniharu Nakamura its new chief executive officer.

Nakamura, 61, who joined Sumitomo in April 1974 and spent 28 years in its auto division, will take over from Susumu Kato, who will become chairman, Tokyo-based Sumitomo said Monday in a statement, ahead of reporting full-year results. Sumitomo has forecast a record ¥250 billion net income for the year that ended March 31.

“By putting an auto guy at the top, Sumitomo may be looking to strengthen its auto business, which is a positive,” given the profits Mitsubishi Corp. has reaped from Mitsubishi Motors Corp., said Yuji Nishiyama, an analyst with Credit Suisse Group AG in Tokyo. The new CEO may also signal a change in Sumitomo’s strategy of not increasing its asset base, he said.

Demand for resources in emerging markets and to rebuild Japan’s northeast after last year’s earthquake and tsunami bolstered profits for trading houses, which act as the main metals and energy suppliers for the nation.

Sumitomo has gained 5.6 percent this year in Tokyo trading, the second-worst performance of Japan’s six major trading houses. Sumitomo owns 1.8 percent of Mazda Motor Corp.