Akebono Brake Industry will form a strategic alliance with Itochu Corporation (Itochu) in the areas of global business operations and sales of non-automotive products, in line with its Global 30 mid-term management plan for expansion and growth.

In the near-term, both companies will study sales expansion of industrial machinery and rolling stock brake products, and an Itochu investment in Akebono's North American regional company. In the mid- to long-term, both companies will look at forming alliances for global sales, starting with a tie up in the North American aftermarket, and increasing distribution efficiencies.

The strategic alliance is significant, as Itochu's know-how will enable Akebono to win new business in industrial machinery, rolling stock and other segments in Japanese and global markets, and allow Akebono to utilise its managerial resources with increased efficiency.

Itochu has a long history as a shareholder and partner of Akebono, and owns stakes in Amak Brake, one of Akebono's North American subsidiaries, and Akebono's two operations in China. An increase in Itochu's stake in Akebono with this strategic alliance is an extension of long-term cooperation between the two companies, and both will pursue further growth.

Itochu will raise its current holding of approximately 0.8% (as of the end of September 2006) in Akebono Brake Industry shares to approximately 9.5% by the end of December.