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OSAKA (Kyodo) Hankyu Holdings Inc. and Hanshin Electric Railway Co. have started talks on how to maximize the effects of their planned management integration now that the Murakami fund has announced it will sell its stake in Hanshin to Hankyu.

The two railways, which have prime real estate holdings and venerable department store chains, said they kicked off the meetings Monday at Hankyu’s head office in Osaka to discuss what the strategies of the envisioned postintegration holding company, Hankyu Hanshin Holdings, should be.

At the first session, which lasted more than an hour, Hankyu was represented by President Kazuo Sumi and Hanshin by the president-designate, Managing Director Shinya Sakai, who is set to assume the post after a general shareholders’ meeting June 29.

In a joint statement released after the session, the two companies said they expect integration to produce a range of benefits from greater passenger traffic on their railways to enhanced profitability from real estate operations, especially in Osaka’s Umeda district.

They said a plan to expand their bus networks after the integration will bring more passengers to their train services.

In real estate, they will try to cash in on Umeda’s western side, which is Hanshin’s turf, and its northern side, where Hankyu has a dominant presence, they said.

There is to be no change in the way the Hanshin Tigers baseball team is operated.

The two firms said their representatives at the integration committee will discuss how to improve services and how to bolster management efficiency via consolidation.

The panel will release an outline in autumn of numerical targets the integrated company including sales goals, the officials said.

Hankyu started a public tender offer for Hanshin shares on May 30, offering 930 yen per share during a 21-day period to next Monday.

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