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Mitsubishi Shifts Global Metal Trading Headquarters to Singapore

Mitsubishi Corp., Japan’s biggest trading house by market value, will move its global metals headquarters to Singapore, joining a stream of the nation’s companies shifting business overseas to cut costs and access a bigger talent pool of workers.

The Singapore unit will start operating from April and take charge of metals and mining trading, the company’s biggest profit center, focusing on demand in emerging markets and Asia, Tokyo-based Mitsubishi said in a statement today. Mitsubishi said it will create a company in Tokyo that will handle Japan-specific metals trading.

Basing the biggest profit earner for Mitsubishi outside of Tokyo marks a downsizing for the city in terms of commodity and financial businesses, as manufacturers including Honda Motor Co. shift output and expansions abroad to avoid a stronger yen and Japan’s growing energy costs.

Mitsubishi will be the first of Japan’s major traders to base its main division outside the country, the Nikkei newspaper reported today. The company will initially shift 10 percent of 400 staffers at its metals unit to Singapore, attracted by the city-state’s corporate tax rate of 17 percent, versus the 40 percent in Japan, the newspaper said, citing no one.

The metals division accounted for 172 billion yen, or 38 percent, of Mitsubishi’s net income in the year ended March 31. Mitsubishi owns 50 percent of the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance, the world’s top coking coal exporter, and more than 20 percent of Anglo American Sur SA, operator of one of the world’s biggest copper mines, among other assets.

Mitsui & Co., the biggest domestic rival to Mitsubishi, in August relocated about 20 crude and oil-product traders to Singapore as the company sought to boost its global sales of the fuel by 30 percent.

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