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Orion Beer agrees to invest in new bus company

Date Posted: 2002-09-21

The emergence of a new company to take over the operations of Okinawa’s four largest bus companies took a step closer to reality when Orion Breweries Co. announced that it had agreed to invest ¥300 million into the new company.

Basic agreement to form the new company had been reached in negotiations between the new company and the four existing companies, but the final roadblock has turned out to be the price the new company would agree to pay for the assets of the old companies.

According to Yoshio Higa, the president of the new bus company and the former president of Okinawa Cellular Co. the company needs a total of ¥2 billion to be able to take off. Sources say that the company has asked several banks for funds but they have been reluctant to lend, as many doubt the viability of the new company.

Orion Beer President Meiki Kinjo says that although his company has agreed to invest, they do not want any part of running it. “We just agreed to invest, but we declined to send a director or take part in the operation of the new company,” Kinjo confirmed.

Informed sources say that other potential investors considering the request from the bus company have been watching the decision by Orion Beer. Many are said to be taken aback as Orion declined to take a larger share. That has also made the task of rising the needed funds harder for the management of the new bus company. To make things worse, President Higa has been hospitalized since June and there is word when he might return to his job.

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