Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co., Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. and Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co. announced Wednesday a comprehensive shipbuilding alliance that will create Japan’s largest shipbuilder.

The three said they intend to integrate their shipbuilding operations into a new company in two or three years.

Their combined revenues would amount to about 350 billion yen, topping the roughly 300 billion yen in sales by the industry leader, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.

The three-way alliance may expand to include Sumitomo Heavy Industries Ltd. as IHI has already reached a basic agreement with it to integrate production of naval ships for the Defense Agency, industry sources said.

They said major Japanese shipbuilders are expected to be consolidated into three groups — the IHK-Kawasaki-Mitsui alliance and Sumitomo Heavy, Mitsubishi Heavy and NKK Corp.-Hitachi Zosen Corp.

The alliance of IHI, Kawasaki and Mitsui will center on commercial shipbuilding, on which the latter two agreed to cooperate last year.

In a bid to prevail amid rising competition from South Korean shipbuilders, the three are aiming to cut costs by joint procurement, developing new technologies, and use of common designs.

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