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Okinawan bus companies finally agree to merger

Date Posted: 2002-07-20

After months of bargaining Okinawa’s four major bus companies, Okinawa Bus, Toyo Bus, Ryukyu Bus and Naha Kotsu, agreed to merger into one new company. Much of the fight had been over the price that the new company would pay for the assets of the old companies who finally had no other option but to agree to the offered price tag of ¥10.4 billion. The companies had sought a combined ¥12.8 billion.

The president of the new company is Yoshio Higa, the former president of Okinawa Cellular Co. The management of the new company has already reached an agreement with the unions representing the workers of the old companies. They have reportedly agreed to a 15 percent pay cut to help the new company get on its feet.

However, the new company is facing a bumpy road, as it has to negotiate bank loans to the tune of ¥8.6 billion, and get investors to cough up another ¥2 billion. Are the banks willing to lend, and who are the investors going to be are open questions.

The new management seems to pin much of its hopes on seed money government sources, but Okinawa Prefecture is saying it is not interested. “We are not in transportation business. They are a private corporation and have to solve their own problems. This has been our position from the beginning,” a prefecture spokesman said.

The bank loans are also in question. “The banks have neither agreed nor refused. All we can do is wait,” a representative of the new management said. The question remains whether Okinawa will have a major bus company in the future.

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