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Diamond Lease Co. and UFJ Central Leasing Co., both affiliated with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., are studying a merger to cope with intensifying competition in the industry, sources said Wednesday.

The move comes at a time when the leasing industry is in a major realignment.

Mitsubishi UFJ wants to ensure the survival of the group’s leasing business by consolidating the overlapping operations and enhancing efficiency, industry observers say.

The sources did not reveal the exact date of the procedures for the Diamond Lease-UFJ Central merger.

If the two firms’ fiscal 2005 business results are any guide, their combined consolidated sales might climb to around 1 trillion yen.

Diamond Lease is an all-around leasing company serving mainly clients of the Mitsubishi Corp. group and is also pushing into the financial services business. UFJ Central is strong in leasing of industrial and medical equipment.

Mitsubishi UFJ apparently thinks that they can complement each other’s strengths.

Mitsubishi UFJ was established last October through the merger of Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial Group Inc. and UFJ Holdings Inc. Industry analysts say operations of the combined group are overlapping particularly in areas such as leasing and consumer credit businesses.

Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. and Sumitomo Corp. last Friday announced the combining of their respective leasing arms.

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