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Honen Corp. and Ajinomoto Oil Mills Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of seasoning maker Ajinomoto Co., will integrate their operations April 1 to cope with a rise in edible food imports, the three companies said Thursday.

Honen and Ajinomoto Oil will set up a holding company to which they will transfer shares and become wholly owned subsidiaries.

The two companies will jointly streamline product development, production and distribution, and cooperate on marketing them by making use of their established brands.

Other details, such as the share allocation ratios, holding company’s name and capitalization, will be worked out at a joint preparatory committee to be established by Honen and Ajinomoto Oil to pave the way for the integration of operations.

Domestic manufacturers of edible oil are trying to improve international competitiveness following a substantial cut in import tariffs that was made in 1996.

In the 2000 business year, which ended in March, Honen, the nation’s second-largest maker of cooking oil, chalked up a consolidated net profit of 1.43 billion yen and a pretax profit of 3.01 billion yen on group sales of 85.99 billion yen.

Ajinomoto Oil released unconsolidated results for the year, including a pretax profit of 776 million yen and a net profit of 168 million yen on sales of 36.80 billion yen.

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