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JFE Holdings Inc. and IHI Corp. will discuss combining their shipbuilding operations to create Japan’s biggest shipyard, challenging South Korean and Chinese rivals.

The Tokyo-based firms will discuss the details, including the merger ratio, at a later date, according to a joint statement released Tuesday. IHI said its board will consider combining wholly owned unit IHI Marine United Inc. with JFE’s 85 percent-controlled Universal Shipbuilding Corp. subsidiary.

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