TonenGeneral Sekiyu K.K. History

New Pier Takeshiba South Tower, 16-1, 1 chome
Kaigan, Minato-ku
Tokyo 105 8572

Telephone: (81) 3-5403-3111
Fax: (81) 3-5425-9018

Public Company (Majority Owned by Exxon Mobil Corporation)
Incorporated: 1939 as Towa Nenryo Kogyo Co. Ltd. (Tonen); 1947 as General Bussan Kaisha, Ltd. (General Sekiyu)
Employees: 2,956
Sales: $15.72 billion (2001)
Stock Exchanges: Tokyo
NAIC: 324110 Petroleum Refineries; 422720 Petroleum and Petroleum Products Wholesalers (Except Bulk Stations and Terminals)

Company Perspectives:

TonenGeneral Sekiyu K.K., as one of the world's premier oil refining and marketing companies, is committed to the future of Japan by providing a stable supply of safe, high-quality energy products. By making full use of the worldwide network of the ExxonMobil Group, our goal is to respond swiftly to customer requirements, and to make a positive contribution to the needs of customers, employees, shareholders, local communities, and society as a whole.

Key Dates:

The Mitsui zaibatsu (large trading company, the forerunner to General Sekiyu) becomes the exclusive supplier of petroleum in the Far East for U.S.-based General Petroleum Corporation.
General Petroleum Company is purchased by Standard Oil of New York.
Standard Oil of New York and Standard Oil of New Jersey merge to create Standard Vacuum Oil Company (Stan-Vac); Mitsui becomes a distributor for the company.
Towa Nenryo Kogyo Co. Ltd. (later to be renamed Tonen Corporation) is formed as a partnership of ten Japanese oil-related companies.
Normal-pressure distillers begin operating in Tonen's Wakayama refinery.
With the postwar fall-off in sales, Tonen dismisses three-quarters of its employees.
Under Allied occupation, the Mitsui zaibatsu is broken up; members of its petroleum department form their own company: General Bussan Kaisha, Ltd.
Standard-Vacuum Oil Company, of the United States, acquires 51 percent of Tonen.
General Bussan Kaisha is listed on the Tokyo stock exchange.
The fluid catalytic cracking method is introduced at Tonen's Wakayama refinery.
Tonen establishes a research and development center.
Standard-Vacuum Oil is split into two companies; Stan-Vac's shares of Tonen are split between Standard Oil of New York, which ultimately becomes Mobil Oil, and Jersey Standard Oil, which ultimately becomes Exxon, while General Sekiyu remains affiliated with Jersey Standard Oil (Exxon).
General Bussan changes its name to General Sekiyu.
General Sekiyu expands into refining.
Exxon purchases 49 percent of General Sekiyu.
General Sekiyu consolidates some of its activities with Exxon-owned subsidiary Esso Standard Sekiyu.
Towa Nenryo Kogyo Co. changes its name to Tonen Corporation.
Japan begins to deregulate its oil industry.
Exxon increases its holding in General Sekiyu to 50.1 percent.
Exxon and Mobil merge, forming Exxon Mobil Corporation (ExxonMobil); the new company holds majority ownership in both Tonen and General Sekiyu.
General Sekiyu and Tonen Corporation merge, forming TonenGeneral Sekiyu.

Company History:

Further Reading:

  • Asai, Hideki, "Gaiatsu in the Boardroom: U.S. Oil Companies Run Tonen As They Like," Tokyo Business Today, May 1994, pp. 22-24.
  • The Course of Tonen's History, Tokyo: Tonen Corporation, 1980.
  • "ExxonMobil's Japanese Affiliates to Merge," Oil & Gas Journal, March 13, 2000, p. 27.
  • Hardy, Quentin, "Tonen President's Resignation Reflects Culture Clash Between Japan, U.S. Firms," Asian Wall Street Journal Weekly, January 24, 1994, p. 3.
  • Park, Christopher, "Uncertain Start to Japan's Deregulation: Refiners Look to Diversify," Platt's Oilgram News, April 2, 1996, p. 1.
  • Sterngold, James, "Lesson in Shareholder Power for Japanese Refiner," New York Times, January 17, 1994, p. C2.
  • Thirty Years of Tonen: From 1939 to 1969, Vols. 1-2, Tokyo: Tonen Corporation, 1971.

Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 54. St. James Press, 2003.