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BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (Kyodo) A group of banks, including the government-affiliated Japan Bank for International Cooperation, signed a deal in the Brunei capital Saturday to lend $360 million to finance a natural gas-related project in the Southeast Asian country.

It is the first time the JBIC has participated in financing a project in Brunei.

A joint venture in which two Japanese firms — Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Co. and Itochu Corp. — hold a combined stake of 75 percent is the core company for the project.

A plant will be built in Brunei to make methanol from natural gas. Methanol is a raw material for synthetic resin and paint.

The plant is scheduled to start operations in 2010 with an annual output of 850,000 tons. Products will be shipped to Japan and North America.

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