Daishowa Paper Manufacturing Co., Ltd. History
Fuji City, Shizuoka 417
Telephone: (0545) 30-3000
Fax: (0545) 32-0005
Sales: ¥3.18 billion (2001)
NAIC: 322122 Newsprint Mills; 322121 Paper (Except Newsprint) Mills; 322130 Paperboard Mills; 321219 Reconstituted Wood Product Manufacturing
Since our foundation in 1938, we have been offering the products that satisfied the stringent demands of our customer, as a comprehensive manufacturer of paper and paperboard. Also, we are proud of being a good corporate citizen maintaining good relationships with the people and areas where we have our production facilities. On March 30, 2001, Daishowa Paper Manufacturing Co., Ltd. and Nippon Paper Industries Co., Ltd. became wholly owned subsidiaries of Nippon Unipac Holding. With a spirit of trust and respect in mind, Daishowa and Nippon are both determined to integrate two operations. We believe that the integration will improve our capability to meet our customers' diversified needs and increase our competitiveness. In response to the many resource and environmental challenges we face, we will pursue the improvements of paper recycling and energy cost. It is our strongest desire to pursue policies that promote the harmonious coexistence of corporate activity and nature by giving special consideration to environmental conservation and cultural contributions. Under a new management structure, Daishowa Paper will make efforts to meet the expectations of our business associates and to contribute to social and cultural roles through our corporate activities. We would like to thank you for your continued support and cooperation.
- Saito Ltd., a brokerage firm supplying raw materials to the paper industry, is founded by Chiichiro Saito.
- The company becomes Saito Brothers Co. and the business expands to include paper sales.
- Saito Ltd. establishes Showa Paper Company with a capitalization of ¥100,000 and begins producing paper and paperboard at Yoskinaga.
- Saito Ltd. builds a mill in Suzukawa for the production of kraft paper.
- Saito Ltd. merges with four other Shizuoka companies to form Daishowa Paper Manufacturing.
- Daishowa starts production of coated paper; production begins on a mill in Shiraoi that would become one of Daishowa's largest integrated mills, producing pulp, paper, and paperboard.
- Daishowa Paper Trading Co., Ltd. is established as an independent sales organization; Harris Daishowa (Australia) Pty., Ltd., an Australian subsidiary, is also established.
- Daishowa Pulp Manufacturing Co., Ltd. is founded.
- Daishowa-Marubeni International Ltd. is founded in Canada in 1969.
- Daishowa Uniboard Co., Ltd. is founded.
- After a forced resignation, Ryoei Saito is able to regain control of the business, expelling his brother Kikuzo Saito from Daishowa.
- Shogo Nakano becomes first non-Saito family president of Daishowa.
- Daishowa Paper becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of Nippon Unipac Holding, a joint company formed with Nippon Paper Industries.
An independent public company for much of its history, Daishowa Paper Manufacturing Co., Ltd. had become the second largest paper manufacturer in Japan by 1990, when it produced about 2.5 million metric tons of paper and paperboard and generated approximately 10 percent of Japan's paper production. Known for the diversity of its operations, at its height the company's businesses included newsprint, kraft paper, and paperboard. The firm also manufactured laminated particleboard and operated forestry and related businesses. Daishowa operated five mills and a building-materials plant in Japan, and several other mills in Canada, the United States, and Australia. However, steady losses throughout the mid- to late 1990s, combined with a series of corporate scandals, shook the company to its foundation, and at the dawn of the new century Daishowa found itself in financial peril. In 2001, plagued by significant debt, rising production costs, and increased competition, Daishowa Paper became a wholly owned subsidiary of Nippon Unipac, a joint holding company formed with Nippon Paper Industries.
The Early Decades: 1921-50
Daishowa traces it origins back to Saito Ltd., a brokerage firm supplying raw materials to the paper industry, founded in 1921 by Chiichiro Saito. In 1922 the company became Saito Brothers Co. and the business expanded to include paper sales. In March 1927 Saito Ltd. established Showa Paper Company with a capitalization of ¥100,000 and began producing paper and paperboard at Yoskinaga. Shortly thereafter, in 1933, Saito Ltd. built a mill in Suzukawa for the production of kraft paper.
War between Japan and China broke out in July 1937, and in September Japan's government approved two economic-control laws. The Temporary Capital Adjustment Act curtailed the establishment of companies, capital increases, payments, bond flotations, and long-term loans. The Temporary Export and Import Commodities Measures gave the government control of the import and export of raw materials. In 1938, nevertheless, with a capitalization of ¥5.5 million, Saito Ltd. merged with four other Shizuoka companies to form Daishowa Paper Manufacturing Company. The Saito family retained control of the new company. One year later, the Suzukawa mill became the first integrated kraft paper mill in Japan.
Japan's pulp and paper industry hit its peak wartime capacity in 1940, when its paper output was 1.7 million tons. Industry in Japan declined steadily as the war dragged on, and in 1941 Japan provoked a war in the Pacific with the attack on Pearl Harbor. By 1946 the overall production of the Japanese pulp and paper industry had shrunk to 231,190 tons, less than 20 percent of what it had been in 1940. Despite this gloomy portent, Daishowa would ride the tsunami of Japan's fierce industrial and economic recovery, landing safely on the shores of mega-prosperity with many of its fellow industrial companies. The Allied powers readily aided Japan's fast-paced growth by their postwar control of the powerful ancient Japanese business monopolies, the zaibatsu. In 1937 the top three zaibatsu controlled 65 percent of pulp and 83 percent of the paper industry; by 1950 these figures were reduced to 39 percent and 57 percent, respectively. With the democratization of industry in Japan, there erupted fierce competition in most industries, which spurred rapid technological expansion and the building of new facilities.
Rapid Growth Under Aggressive Leadership of Ryoei Saito: 1950s-60s
It was at this time that Ryoei Saito, a young businessman and Chiichiro Saito's son, assumed leadership at Daishowa. The younger Saito led his family-controlled, publicly traded company in a violent struggle against three kingpins of the Japanese paper establishment, Oji Paper Company, Jujo Paper Company, and Honshu Paper Company. This trio had been created from Oji Paper, part of the Mitsui zaibatsu, when Oji Paper was divided after World War II. In 1950, five years after the end of the war, construction of the Fuji mill began, and production started in 1953. In 1960 Daishowa started production of coated paper. In the same year, production was begun on a mill in Shiraoi that was to become one of Daishowa's largest integrated mills, producing pulp, paper, and paperboard. Saito's aggressive price cutting and rapidly increasing market share may have appeared uncouth to the Japanese, but by 1965 Daishowa had seized the number two spot among Japanese papermakers.
Japan's economy continued to ride high, peaking from 1965 to 1973, when production of paper and paperboard mushroomed 10 to 11 percent annually. The Iwanu mill was built in 1967. Daishowa imported its first U.S. woodchips in 1965. Daishowa Paper Trading Co., Ltd. was established as an independent sales organization in 1967, the same year that Harris Daishowa (Australia) Pty., Ltd., the corporation's Australian subsidiary, was established. In 1968 Daishowa Pulp Manufacturing Co., Ltd. was founded, followed by Daishowa-Marubeni International Ltd., in Canada in 1969, and Daishowa Uniboard Co., Ltd. in 1970.
Relentless Expansion in the 1970s and 1980s
During the late 1960s and early 1970s Japan began to pay the price for its dynamic resurgence. One particularly disturbing cost was the pollution caused by its bustling industry. The Japanese government began to crack down on kogai, or pollution. In Shizouka Prefecture, there was particular trouble with toxic sludge on the bottom of Tagonoura Bay, for which the government held Daishowa responsible. Daishowa, like most industrial companies, complied with government demands for environmental protection, in particular for protecting water against pollution.
As environmental issues continued to galvanize public outcry, many businesses converted to the use of recycled paper. By the early 1990s, demand for recycled paper was growing faster than supply, and Daishowa was in tune with the trend. Daishowa had been recycling pulp since 1959, when it started producing de-inked pulp (DIP) from old newspapers at the Fuji mill. Progressive efforts to develop higher-quality recycled pulp resulted in the formation of a project in 1985 that concentrated on improving the de-inking process. In 1988 the resulting improved system was installed in a new plant at Yoshinaga that produced a superior DIP. In 1990 Daishowa had 13 de-inking facilities in four of its Japanese mills; it produced 2,000 tons a day of recycled pulp for use in making paperboard and paper. Construction of two more such facilities was planned for 1991, adding capacity for an additional 330 tons per day.
The environmental crackdown of the 1970s and the oil crisis of 1973 were followed by a severe general recession. Average annual growth in the pulp and paper market shrank to a mere 1.1 percent from 1973 through 1982. Daishowa, nevertheless, showed a striking increase in sales and profitability from 1978 to 1979, when it rose in international status from 37th to 20th place in pulp and paper companies worldwide. Daishowa ranked fifth among companies outside North America, and third among those in Japan. Its sales were $1.3 billion; earnings were $14.5 million.
Despite the oil crisis and the ensuing financial difficulties, Daishowa continued its program of unabated expansion. Having just established foreign holdings in the United States and Canada, in 1980 it upgraded its facilities at Iwanuma to lower the weight of its newsprint, in keeping with the industry trend toward lighter papers. The mill would have a capacity of 360,000 tons per day of newsprint in addition to 120,000 tons per day of coated paper. In addition, Daishowa installed a machine to produce carbonless copy paper at Yoshinaga, following the trend set by Taio Paper--now Daio Paper--earlier in the year. These expansions came at a time when imports to Japan were rising despite the weakening Japanese demand for paper. From 1977 through 1982, imports rose an average of 17 percent per year. Although imports ultimately comprised only 2 percent to 4 percent of total Japanese consumption, newsprint and kraft linerboard, two of Daishowa's specialties, represented 70 percent of total imports, accounting for 8.9 percent of the newsprint, and 14.5 percent of the kraft linerboard consumed in Japan.
If import statistics did their job to rattle the pulp and paper business, other accumulated industry-wide expenditures combined to ensure the industry's decline in the early 1980s. Excessive borrowing, expensive environmental-protection programs, and escalating energy costs took their toll. Daishowa, sporting its own portfolio of financial mistakes, became a casualty of the accelerating decline, dropping from its 1979 status as third largest papermaker in Japan to last place among the top ten in 1982. As profits slid downward, Ryoei Saito was forced to resign and cede control of Daishowa to its principal creditor, the Sumitomo Bank, which appointed some of its own representatives to the Daishowa board. The Sumitomo Bank's rescue of Daishowa was not unique in Japan, where a firm typically cultivated a close relationship with one principal bank, relying on it for most borrowing needs. This bank maintains all financial information on the company and has substantial influence in its management. Nevertheless, Ryoei Saito did not take kindly to the management changes the Sumitiomo Bank deemed appropriate. For its part, Sumitomo found that in addition to overspending in new production facilities, Ryoei Saito had used approximately $1 billion of corporate funds to build his art collection, buy golf courses, and play the stock market. The bank compelled Saito to sell off much of the highly regarded art collection, and he begrudgingly resigned.
In 1983 Daishowa announced that it would repay the Sumitomo Bank's ¥23.5 billion in loans by June of that year and then terminate the relationship with Sumitomo. The move shocked the Japanese business community, in which bank-company relations were likely to last indefinitely. In June 1986, Ryoei Saito was able to regain control of the business, expelling his brother Kikuzo Saito from Daishowa's presidency and ousting a board director who had close ties with Sumitomo. Kikuzo Saito later claimed that Ryoei Saito had borrowed substantially from Daishowa funds for his own personal use. The Sumitomo Bank remained one of Daishowa's major institutional shareholders, with 3.9 percent of Daishowa's stock in 1990.
Once back at Daishowa, this time as honorary chairman of the company, Ryoei Saito stayed true to his established interests and style. In May 1990, Saito caused a flurry in the international art market by purchasing the two most expensive paintings ever sold by auction: Renoir's At the Moulin de la Galette, which sold for $78.1 million, and Vincent van Gogh's Portrait of Dr. Gachet, purchased for $82.5 million. The paintings were snapped up within three days of each other, and although Saito deemed his shopping spree "no big deal" he also granted that his funds were borrowed against the collateral of Daishowa real estate.
In the early 1990s the Saito family continued to control 20 percent to 40 percent of the firm; in combination with their real estate holdings, the family's net worth was somewhere around $1 billion. In an effort to prevent dilution of the Saito family's stake, Daishowa managed to expand during the late 1980s without issuing new stock, principally by taking on additional loans. This strategy more than doubled its debt between 1987 and 1990 to $3 billion, more than five times shareholders' equity. In 1990 profits dropped 35 percent to $35 million.
Kiminori Saito, nevertheless, continued his father's aggressive expansion of Daishowa, probably fueling the growth with family resources from Ashitaka Rinsan Kogyo, the family holding company. In April 1990 that firm spent $49 million to buy Daishowa's share of a 23-year-old Australian eucalyptus-chip venture with C. Itoh. It also purchased 25 percent of the preferred shares of Daishowa's new pulp mill in Alberta, Canada. On the other hand, a Japanese corporate research firm indicated that Ashitaka's 1990 accumulated debt of $300 million was created by borrowing against the collateral of Daishowa. Whatever the stability and origins of its financial underpinnings, Daishowa's expansion showed no signs of slowing down during the early 1990s. Its domestic expansion budget was a healthy $330 million in 1991.
In addition to its development on its home turf, Daishowa aggressively expanded its overseas operations. In 1990 its major joint-venture operations included Cariboo Pulp & Paper Company, a softwood bleached kraft pulp mill, and Quesnel River Pulp Company, a chemi-thermo-mechanical pulp mill, both located in British Columbia, Canada. Foreign acquisitions made by Daishowa during 1988 included a $78 million investment for Daishowa America Port Angeles mill, in Washington state. The company upgraded the mill with another $52 million investment. In addition to producing newsprint, paperboard, pulp, lumber, and chemicals, as of 1990, the mill provided 20 percent of the paper used in U.S. telephone directories. The company spent an estimated $500 million to purchase the North American assets of Reed International, a Quebec mill chiefly generating newsprint for Canadian and U.S. newspapers such as the Washington Post and the New York Post. In 1988, Daishowa started construction of its Peace River Pulp mill, a major bleached kraft pulp mill in Alberta, Canada. In early 1990, Daishowa bought a lumber mill from Canadian Forest Products to supply the plant, which began operations in the summer of 1990.
Imperiled by Scandal, Recession, and Insolvency in the 1990s
By April 1991 it appeared that Daishowa's reckless expansion program had left the company perilously overextended. Indeed, less than a year after Ryoei Saito's sensational acquisitions of the Renoir and Van Gogh paintings, the company reported equally extravagant losses--¥14.9 billion, against revenues of ¥352 billion--in the fiscal year ending in March 1991, some of the worst figures in the history of the company. Daishowa's poor performance was due in part to crippling interest payments associated with ¥440 billion of debt. Desperate to relieve some of this burden, Daishowa had no choice but to put a freeze on future investments and begin selling off land, securities, and other assets. Further, with the entire Japanese paper industry suffering from deflated market prices resulting from overcapacity--an overcapacity that Daishowa had helped create--the company moved to suspend operations at several of its Japanese plants during the summer of 1991 in an effort to reduce its inventories.
In September 1991, the recession in the paper market was not lifting, and it was clear that Daishowa would need to take more drastic measures to regain stability. The company launched an extensive restructuring program aimed at cutting its workforce by 40 percent. To accomplish this, Daishowa planned to liquidate its Fuji plant in Shizowka Prefecture and other unprofitable domestic plants, and sell off its recently completed Peace River pulp mill in Canada. The company did not reach a deal on the Peace River plant until late in 1992, after posting losses for the second year in a row. Finally, in September of that year, Daishowa and Marubeni Corporation, already involved in other joint ventures, agreed to share 50-50 stakes in the plant, a deal that yielded ¥110 billion for Daishowa.
Daishowa's recovery efforts suffered a heavy blow in November 1993, when Ryoei Saito was arrested on bribery charges in conjunction with his land-development projects. In February 1994, with Daishowa's de facto leader continuing to jeopardize the company's welfare, the board of directors appointed Shogo Nakano president of Daishowa. Formerly Daishowa's vice-president, Nakano had been instrumental in designing the company's restructuring program. By placing the first ever non-Saito family member at the helm of the company, the move was designed to improve the transparency of corporate activity. Within six weeks of Nakano's appointment, more than ten Saito family members were purged from their executive positions at the company.
In spite of a brief return to profitability in 1996, when the company enjoyed overall sales of ¥323.2 billion, by the late 1990s Daishowa once again found itself deep in debt. In 2000, facing increased competition from imports and rising production costs, Daishowa entered into negotiations with rival paper giant Nippon Paper to form a joint holding company, with the aim of streamlining its operations and restoring itself to profitability. The new company, dubbed Nippon Unipac Holding, would be the largest paper manufacturer in Japan, with expected annual sales of ¥1.21 trillion. The merger became official on March 31, 2001. Although the formation of Nippon Unipac effectively ended Daishowa's long history as an independent entity, a number of its subsidiaries both at home and abroad continued to bear the Daishowa name, while operating under the Nippon Unipac corporate umbrella.
Principal Competitors: Hokuetsu Paper Mills, Ltd.; Mitsubishi Paper Mills Limited; Oji Paper Co., Ltd.
- "Daishowa Paper Unit Declared Bankrupt," Jiji Press Ticker Service, June 22, 2002.
- Hara, Nobuko, "After Van Gogh, Daishowa Set to Show £55m Loss," Independent, April 7, 1991, p.8.
- Klamann, Edmond, "Debt-Ridden Daishowa Restructures; No. 2 Papermaker Plans to Shred Work Force, Sell Off Recently Built Canadian Pulp Plant," Nikkei Weekly, September 7, 1991, p. 8.
- McKinnon, Ian, "Daishowa Loses Lubicon Case," Financial Post, April 15, 1998, p. 09.
- Mizuno, Yuji, "Daishowa Appoints 'Outsider' As President: In a Bid to Promote Transparency, Paper Maker Appoints Non-Saito Family Member As President," Nikkei Weekly, February 14, 1994, p. 9.
- ------, "Daishowa Derailed by Executive's Arrest; Bribery Scandal Seen Hampering Efforts by Papermaker to Restructure, Repay Debts," Nikkei Weekly, November 15, 1993, p. 12.
- Murayama, Mari, and Tak Kumakura, "Nippon Paper to Buy Daishowa: $1-Billion Accord," National Post (Canada), March 28, 2000, p. C14.
- "Papermakers' Merger Runs into Some Opposition; Daio Will Try to Prevent Daishowa from Unifying with Nippon Paper," Nikkei Weekly, April 3, 2000, p.10.
- Swoboda, Frank, "U.S. Paper Mill's Japanese Owners Win Union Allies; Daishowa Blends Two Cultures in Its Management Approach," Washington Post, October 27, 1991, p. H1.
- Terazono, Emiko, "Daishowa Stays in Red Despite Shake-Up," Financial Times (London), May 31, 1995, p. 29.
- Wagstyl, Stefan, "Daishowa Sells Off Assets to Cover Pre-Tax Losses," Financial Times (London), May 30, 1991, p. 31.
Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 57. St. James Press, 2004.