Marubeni’s Incoming CEO Kokubu Sets Profit Target Above Sumitomo

Marubeni Corp.’s incoming Chief Executive Officer Fumiya Kokubu said he’ll focus on power plants and other infrastructure to curb volatility in earnings that he expects to reach 300 billion yen ($3.22 billion) a year.

Kokubu, who will take over Japan’s biggest agricultural commodities trader from Teruo Asada in April, wants Marubeni to achieve a 50 percent increase in annual net income from the 200 billion yen targeted for this fiscal year, he said in Tokyo yesterday, without specifying a timeframe. Asada will take the post of chairman.

This year’s forecast profit would already be a record for the company. A 50 percent jump would put Marubeni ahead of Sumitomo Corp., whose 250.7 billion-yen in net income last year placed it fourth among Japanese trading companies after Mitsubishi Corp., Mitsui & Co. and Itochu Corp. Marubeni and Sumitomo are due to announce mid-term business plans from April.

“When I joined, it was the three Ms” that described Japan’s biggest traders, Kokubu said, referring to Mitsubishi and Mitsui, as well as his own company. Marubeni, which Kokubu joined in 1975 soon after graduating from Keio University, is now Japan’s fifth-largest trader by profit and market value.

Marubeni owns the most power-generating capacity among the trading companies. Electricity projects accounted for 12 percent of its 172 billion-yen net income last fiscal year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The company’s financial year runs through March.

The trading house also has water-treatment assets in countries including Chile and the Philippines. It services the water needs of about 6 million people globally, in proportion to its equity stakes, and targets expansion to 10 million, according to its website.