Hitachi, Nissan To Merge Forklift Units

Posted on November 30, 2011

Innovation Network Corp. of Japan, Hitachi Construction Machinery Co., Ltd. and Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. announced that they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to integrate their forklift businesses into a new company. UniCarriers Corp. will be operated mainly by INCJ, which is a public-private partnership that provides financial, technological and management support for next-generation businesses.

INCJ, Hitachi Construction Machinery and Nissan are aiming to enter into a definitive and legally binding agreement promptly and, subject to receiving the necessary approvals from government authorities, the subsidiaries of Hitachi Construction Machinery and Nissan will be integrated and operated under the new company by spring 2012.

All issued shares of the forklift businesses will be transferred to the new company. In addition, a total of $385 million of growth capital will be injected by INCJ. The majority of the voting shares of the new company will be held by INCJ, while Hitachi Construction Machinery and Nissan will hold shares in the new company in proportion to their share transfers.

Hitachi said the global market for forklifts is expected to recover from the aftereffects of the financial crisis and grow considerably in the future, led by demand in emerging markets. Many Japanese forklift manufacturers do not have sufficient scale to gain market share even with their technological prowess, which makes strategic mergers, acquisitions and restructuring vital for them to capture business in new, growing markets, Hitachi said.

Hitachi said the new company will, while sustaining and developing existing business, will aim to gain significant market share in growth markets where the competitive landscape is still in flux. This will be supported by intensively allocating management resources in emerging markets, such as the ASEAN countries, and in sectors such as environmentally-friendly technologies.

Hitachi said the new company will also seek to lead a gradual restructuring of the entire forklift industry, including both Japan-based and overseas forklift manufacturers over the mid- to long-term, in order to grow into one of the leading companies in this sector globally. The consolidation of business resources resulting from the integration, together with INCJ’s additional funding, will enable the new company to develop to a scale that would not have been possible if attempted by each individual company, Hitachi said.