Bank of Japan’s new currency salvo could backfire

January 29, 2016

The central bank has responded to turmoil in global financial markets by cutting interest rates below zero. The shock move weakens the yen and opens a new front in Japan’s battle against deflation. But it also risks adding to the international tumult that prompted the BOJ to act.

Toyota can make handy tune-up with Daihatsu

January 27, 2016

The world’s top carmaker could buy out minority shareholders in its $5 bln subsidiary. That would eliminate inefficiency while boosting its small-car credentials. It’s also a good use of Toyota stock. A bolder follow-up would be to take control of affiliate Subaru.

Foxconn is better off without Sharp

January 22, 2016

The Taiwanese giant wants to gatecrash a state-backed rescue with its own $5 bln-plus offer. The Japanese group’s display technology would make Foxconn even more indispensable to Apple. But fixing this basket case will be hard. And Sharp’s other businesses are a poor fit.

Grolsch could leave bitter taste at Asahi

January 13, 2016

Japan’s top brewer is eyeing beers left over from ABI’s takeover of SABMiller. A mooted $3.4 bln tab for Peroni and Grolsch sounds frothy, especially with limited potential to cut costs. Asahi looks desperate for overseas growth, even at the expense of shareholder value.

China’s troubles catch Japan off-guard

January 12, 2016

Japan is highly sensitive to its larger neighbour’s economic health. Market turmoil is also strengthening the yen, threatening profit and prices. This could hardly come at a worse time: policymakers already battling deflation and stagnation have few levers left to pull.

Japan’s outbound M&A wave will sweep up minnows

December 29, 2015

A growing number of companies are trying to buy their way out of a shrinking home market. While blue-chips like Canon, Nippon Life and Mitsubishi UFJ are still shopping abroad, smaller companies are getting bolder. Watch for less familiar names venturing overseas in 2016.

Japan index: Onwards and upwards

December 16, 2015

Business confidence is holding up and revised data shows Japan dodged a technical recession. Our index also suggests the economic picture may be improving. In October the gauge reached its highest point since 2000: prices, stocks, lending, wages and consumption all crept up.

New Renault-Nissan pact is only roadside repair

December 14, 2015

France’s growing power at Renault is curbed, as is the French carmaker’s sway in Japan. It ends months of distraction for the auto alliance led by Carlos Ghosn. But the fiddly legal fixes only go so far. It would be better to see the duo drive towards a full merger.

Jobs in Japan outweigh recession-that-wasn’t

December 8, 2015

Revised data show Japan avoided six straight months of economic shrinkage after all. Bravo. But GDP figures are always volatile and technical recessions count for little in low-growth countries. For Japanese policymakers, the priority is ensuring a healthy labour market and boosting inflation.

Another reckoning looms for Sharp

December 2, 2015

Lenders have bailed out the embattled Japanese electronics firm twice in the past three years. A more radical overhaul now looks likely – perhaps involving state-backed fund INCJ and affiliate Japan Display. If credit markets are right, there is little value for shareholders.