Monday, January 30, 2012

WSJ: "Exxon Mobil to Unload Its Subsidiary in Japan"

Wall Street Journal Jan 30 2012, p. B3 print edition.

The article explains that Exxon Mobil plans to sell its subsidiary in Japan for $3.9 billion and to relinquish control of refiner TonenGeneral Sekiyu KK.

The deal stipulates that TonenGeneral will acquire 99% of Exxon's issued shares at Exxon's arm, Exxon Mobil Yugen Kaisha. 

Further, the deal means that Exxon will give up its controlling interest in TonenGeneral, "Japan's second-largest refiner, maintaining a 22% voting share instead."

Think about what this article is stating. Exxon Mobil is extricating itself from a major role in Japan's refining, despite the shutdown of the vast majority of Japan's nuclear plants. 

One would think that refining would be even more important in the context of the closed nuclear plants.

However, the article states that "TonenGeneral's shares are off 11% this year" because of over-capacity stemming from the "sluggish" economy and Japan's use of energy-efficient technologies."

Reading between the lines, I interpret this article as indicating that Japan's industrial capacity is shuttering and Exxon Mobil is seeking to sell off majority shares while the fantasy of near-normality continues to be spun in the global media.

I have commented before about corporate flight from Japan and collapsing exports.

Japan's economy is vital to the global economy. This is not good news from an economic perspective because it suggests ongoing capital flight.
Japan holds considerable US foreign debt. I imagine markets will "swoon" if Japan starts selling off this debt.

Most important, the lives and well-being of Japan's citizens are at stake. One hopes that the Japanese government will institute measures to protect the livelihood of citizens whose jobs are destroyed in the shadow of the largest nuclear disaster ever.

There are rumors that Japan's government is building cities in other countries, such as India. 

Let us hope that Japan's government does not plan on abandoning its citizens, as well.

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