lunedì 25 agosto 2008

Solar Energy: japanese big firms run to Europe. New deal for 2009 in Spain and Germany

 Taking advantage of financial incentives for solar power generation, Japanese trading houses are stepping up investments in photovoltaic projects in Spain and elsewhere in Europe.

By investing in the fast-growing field in Europe, they hope to see the solar power business become a main source of long-term earnings, according to officials.

In late July, Mitsui & Co. acquired all the stock of photovoltaic power project companies in Catalonia, Spain, with a current capacity of 100 kilowatts peak (kWp).

The acquisition was made through IPM Eagle LLP, an investment firm based in Britain in which Mitsui has a 30-percent stake.

Upon completion of additional facilities, the total capacity will soon be 1,460 kWp, enough to supply electricity to 380 households.

Sumitomo Corp. also announced in May it had launched a solar power project on Spain's Canary Islands with a projected output of 9,000 kWp.

The total cost is estimated at 8.5 billion yen and power generation will start later this year.

Meanwhile, Itochu Corp. acquired a 10-percent stake in Scatec Solar AS of Norway, which develops solar power generation facilities, for 1.3 billion yen in May.

It will build major solar parks in Germany, the Czech Republic and elsewhere with target sales set at 130,000 kilowatts per year by 2010.

The government of Japan is also planning to establish a sovereign wealth fund in fiscal 2009 that would place priority on innovative technologies using new energy sources and natural resources, government sources said Saturday.

Amid surging prices of crude oil and other resources, the fund--tentatively named Innovation Sozo Kiko--will invest mainly in solar power generation, wind power generation, fuel cells, and other new energy technologies and natural resources.

The government is aiming to prevent excessive outflows of national wealth to countries rich in natural resources, and to build a mid- and long-term base for future economic growth.

The government hopes these new policies will transform the economy into one that functions on drastically reduced resource consumption.

Initially, the government saw the fund as an entity to buy up dormant patents owned by companies and universities, aiming to use them to produce high-value-added goods across a wide range of industries.

But the government shifted to a policy that concentrates on certain specific purposes due to a recent surge in prices of various natural resources.

Among its practical investment targets, the government is considering a project to collect and pool technologies from major manufacturers, emerging companies, universities and other research institutes that can lead to the production of innovative fuel cell technologies.

In the solar power-generation field, the fund would help companies select and concentrate on promising business projects.

Asian Studies Group

Business Analysis

venerdì 22 agosto 2008

China surpass US as Japan's biggest customer

Mainland China overtook the US as Japan’s largest export destination for the first time last month, underlining the growing importance of Chinese demand to the world’s second-largest economy.

Exports to China, which have risen in each of the last 38 months, expanded by 16.8 per cent in July to their highest level since the Japanese government began compiling statistics in 1950.

At the same time, exports to the US declined by 11.5 per cent, marking the 11th consecutive monthly drop. Overall, shipments rose by 8.1 per cent by value, after falling in June for the first time since 2003, the finance ministry said.

Japan’s July trade surplus suffered an unexpectedly large decline of 86.6 per cent to Y91.1bn ($829m, €562m, £445m) because of an 18.2 per cent surge in imports by value. The market forecast was for a trade surplus in July of more than Y200bn. The fall, the fifth monthly decline in a row, reflected a near 70 per cent rise in the price of crude oil and a more than doubling of the price of coal.

Many analysts expect exports to fall again in coming months as the slowdown in western economies begins to have an impact on demand in emerging economies such as China.

“It is difficult to believe that Japan will be able to maintain the kind of growth in exports that it saw in July. I think there is a higher chance of a slowdown,” said Kyohei Morita, chief economist at Barclays Capital in Tokyo.Given China’s growing dependence on the EU as an export destination, Chinese growth was likely to decelerate, leading in turn to a slowdown in Japanese exports to China, Mr Morita said.

Beyond the news, my opinion

If japanese market is still suffering a big fall for domestic production and consumptions we can clearly observe that the business profile of Japan abroad is totally changing.

We started before by an univocal partnership with USA  but now it seems that japanese companies are sure they are able to approach by theyself, with high profile production, new important markets like China. 

I think that China for those big companies like Komatsu or Honda it will not be just a "paradise for exportations" but it'd became the first partner for production and investiment plans as well, probably more than USA.

So China is also involving european companies, that had good relations with japan up to now, in a new exciting atmosphere which those companies, never had a try at doing business in China but still have a long friendship with Japan, finally are able to improve their business knowledges trying to communicate with the "big dragon". Of course, that communication it should be mediated by those japanese partners we've already managed good business...

Paolo Cacciato

Asian Studies Group

giovedì 21 agosto 2008

Beijing's support to speed up State Owned Companies

Beijing has largely left the task of restructuring to state-owned enterprises to manage themselves, but the government will now begin driving the process, Wang Huisheng, president and chief executive of the largest state-owned industrial holding company, told the Financial Times on Wednesday.

 “One year has already gone by and we need to accelerate [the consolidation process],” said Mr Wang, who is head of the State Development and Investment Corp. “SDIC will be a major platform for this restructuring process by acquiring [state-owned enterprises] that add to our main business lines and selling others into the market.”

Mr Wang singled out the energy sector, in which SDIC is a big investor, saying he intended to consolidate upstream coal mining operations with transport links, port facilities and downstream power plants to create integrated energy producers that are less vulnerable to soaring coal prices.

While state ownership would decrease in some sectors, in others, such as energy and natural resources, the state would increase control, Mr Wang said.

For further info on this analysis please read the article of Financial Times

Pechino: sosteniamo nuovamente le imprese statali. Appoggio tecnico e finanziario in attesa dei grandi investimenti stranieri

PECHINO: Pechino tornerà a ristrutturare le SOE, le società di conduzione statale già dalla seconda metà del 2008. Una scelta che sembrerebbe di contro tendenza con quanto portato avanti dalla politica del socialismo di mercato alla cinese, ma che in realtà in un'attenta analisi condotta dagli osservatori del Financial Times, dimostra quanto oggi più che mai Pechino sia interessata a primeggiare sul mercato degli investimenti privati e sia pronta a favorire la grande vendita degli assets non appena verranno implementati e resi competitivi.

L'obiettivo dichiarato precedentemente è quello di alleggerire il coinvolgimento statale portando il numero dei colossi controllati dallo Stato da 150 a 80 già entro il 2010. Un risultato che segnalerebbe chiaramente la riuscita di una spinta propulsiva proiettata verso la ristrutturazione economica in chiave d'apertura di un mercato rigidamente gestito dall'amministrazione pubblica in passato. 

Ma Pechino è altrettanto consapevole di come tale riuscita sia difficile da perseguire allentando totalmente la dimensione del controllo diretto, lasciando le piccole e medie imprese cinesi e gli investitori stranieri in uno stato di semi incapacità gestionale, soprattutto per settori delicati e che necessitano di ampie strutturazioni tecniche e finanziarie.

E' quanto ha nuovamente chiarito da Wang Huisheng il capo della SDIC, la State Developmant and Investment Corp., che diverrà la vera e propria base di partenza gestita dallo Stato per l'acquisizione di linee di business fondamentali per lo sviluppo dei diversi settori. "Acquisiti i punti di forza necessari a settori strategici dell'economia di un Paese in ascesa nel dialogo delle potenze internazionaliquale il nostro" spiega Wang "ci preoccuperemo di rivendere quanto accresciuto sul mercato delle acquisizioni private".

I settori chiave su cui la SDIC sembra non baderà a spese sono ovviamente quello energetico, dei trasporti, delle infrastrutture, miniere e agricoltura che verranno poi largamente offerti a controllo di investitori oltre oceano dopo la propulsione statale e l'allineamento ai rigori di competitività internazionali.

Ovviamente se in generale dal 2010 al 2015 la Cina potrebbe conoscere la spinta alla privatizzazione più intensa mai conosciuta fino ad oggi e agevolata in termini tecnici e finanziari direttamente dal governo, dall'altra Wang fa notare come sicuramente Pechino preserverà e reinvestirà ogni risorsa su un settore chiave che rimarrà nel controllo ad appannaggio del governo, quello energetico.

Ampie possibilità di controllo privato saranno offerte per i settori dei trasporti e delle infrastrutture, senza dimenticare una possibile riforma di legge che stabilisca l'attività di speculazione dal mercato immobiliare, vera e propria punta di diamante dell'economia cinese.

Paolo Cacciato