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June 26, 2003

JAPAN: Shaky home market prompts Mitsubishi to eye China and other export markets – report

Mitsubishi Motors is looking to China and other export markets to sustain itself until the Japanese market outlook improves, the company's chief executive said on Wednesday, according to Dow Jones Newswires. "We will try to strengthen (operations in) China, because there is the growth of the future," Rolf Eckrodt reportedly said at the annual shareholders' meeting.

By bcusack

Mitsubishi Motors is looking to China and other export markets to sustain itself until the Japanese market outlook improves, the company’s chief executive said on Wednesday, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

“We will try to strengthen (operations in) China, because there is the growth of the future,” Rolf Eckrodt reportedly said at the annual shareholders’ meeting.

Dow Jones said Eckrodt’s remarks came days after an official at China’s Hunan Changfeng Motors announced that Mitsubishi may increase its stake in that company to as much as 50% from 19.5%.

Eckrodt reportedly said all six of Mitsubishi’s operations in China are profitable.

Mitsubishi Motors will start to break even in Japan in 2005 or 2006, he said, according to Dow Jones, and, in the meantime, the company will lean on its export crutch.

Dow Jones noted that exports to China, as well as to North America and elsewhere in Asia, kept Mitsubishi out of the red in the fiscal year ended March 31 and the company brought in Y1.104 trillion in sales from passenger car exports last fiscal year, up 122% from the previous year, though its home market sales were down 85% at Y442.8 billion.

According to Dow Jones, passenger cars are now Mitsubishi’s primary products, since it spun off its truck and bus division in March into a separate company, Mitsubishi Fuso Truck & Bus Corporation.

Dow Jones noted that the spin-off came amid a wave of restructuring that Eckrodt credited, along with the exports, with helping Mitsubishi make its highest yearly profits in history.

The company holds the fourth largest share of Japan’s big five car makers, the report added.

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