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Lloyds List: Japanese form LPG pact with Koreans

Tony Gray, Lloyds List
Published: Sep 18, 2007

CONSOLIDATION in Japan’s LPG industry has taken on an international flavour following a co-operation pact between trading house Itochu and South Korea’s SK Gas. Areas for co-operation are expected to include shipping, writes Tony Gray.

SK Gas confirmed that a memorandum of understanding had been signed with Japan’s Itochu to invest in LPG terminals and co-operate in LPG trading.

The company was responding to a report in the Japanese financial daily Nikkei that said the strategic alliance would also embrace shipping and a joint business partnership in China.

Itochu is understood to have period charters on four LPG carriers, while SK Gas has charters on three vessels.

Details of the alliance, which is not a merger, would be determined in six months, the report said.

The co-operation is designed to improve efficiency and deal with increasing competition.

The Japanese LPG industry is being re-shaped by a series of mergers and co-operation pacts. In June, Japanese refiner Showa Shell and trading house Sumitomo said they planned to merge their LPG businesses by next April, in an effort to cut costs and remain competitive.

Mitsui and Marubeni also intend to merge their LPG businesses by April 2008.

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