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    Merging ahead–maintain speed

    I’m not sure whether anyone in these parts cares about the financial news–Japan is so ’80’s to pay attention to, anyway. But the Mitsubishi-Tokyo Financial Group and the UFJ Group just announced that they will merge into the largest financial institution in the universe by the end of the week, surpassing the globe-buggeringly huge Mizuho Group. Lip service is, naturally, being payed to their complementary strengths, kind of. UFJ is based in Kansai (Osaka-Tokyo-Kobe) and Nagoya and has a lot of small-business clients and individual accounts. MTFG is based here in Tokyo and has dealings with a lot of mammoth corporations (especially in guess which conglomerate), though it also has a retail bank, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi.

    A major reason for the merger, you will doubtless be shocked to hear, is that UFJ is carrying a lot of bad debt. (Not that MTFG still isn’t, I’m sure, but in Japan, these things must be considered relative if you want to avoid a heart attack.) Whether this will actually streamline the operations of their trust banks, retail banks, and holding companies, which are all set to merge over the next few years, is anyone’s guess. In Japan, companies often seem to merge just for the sake of getting bigger; but then, so do the federal ministries that are in bed with them.

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