Tosoh Corporation History

3-8-2 Shiba, Minato-ku

Telephone: (81) 3 5427 5118
Fax: (81) 3 5427 5198

Public Company
Incorporated: 1935
Employees: 9,167
Sales: ¥484 billion ($4.7 billion) (2004)
Stock Exchanges: Tokyo
Ticker Symbol: 4042
NAIC: 325181 Alkalies and Chlorine Manufacturing; 325131 Inorganic Dye and Pigment Manufacturing; 325188 All Other Inorganic Chemical Manufacturing; 325211 Plastics Material and Resin Manufacturing; 325311 Nitrogenous Fertilizer Manufacturing; 325312 Phosphatic Fertilizer Manufacturing; 325320 Pesticide and Other Agricultural Chemical Manufacturing; 325998 All Other Miscellaneous Chemical Product Manufacturing; 326299 All Other Rubber Product Manufacturing; 327310 Cement Manufacturing; 331111 Iron and Steel Mills; 334419 Other Electronic Component Manufacturing; 334516 Analytical Laboratory Instrument Manufacturing

Company Perspectives:

Based on a medium- to long-term perspective, the Tosoh Group is working toward a corporate structure that can achieve stable and high income levels, supporting its goal of becoming a truly international competitor. The corporate image that the Group is striving for can be described by the following three objectives: evolving to react effectively to a dynamic operating environment; exhibiting broad earning power; realizing employees' full potential in contributing to operations Initiatives in fulfillment of these aims are helping the Tosoh Group to achieve the right chemistry for success.

Key Dates:

Toyo Soda Manufacturing Co is founded to produce soda ash for Japan's glass industry.
The company begins production of bromine.
Production of caustic soda is launched.
The company opens its first foreign sales office in the United States.
Toyo Stauffer Chemical Co. (ultimately Tosoh FineChem) joint venture is formed and production of dicalcium phosphate is launched.
Production at a second facility, Yokkaichi Manufacturing Complex, begins.
The company acquires Tekkosha Co. of Japan and enters into a joint venture in Greece.
The company founds Amto International (later Tosoh Europe) in the Netherlands.
Tosoh USA is founded.
The company changes its name to Tosoh Corporation and forms a joint venture Holland Sweetener Company to produce aspartame in the Netherlands.
A Specialty Metals Division is acquired from Variant; the company enters Malaysia through a stake in Industrial Resins (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd.
The company acquires a stake in Weiss Scientific Glass Blowing in Oregon.
A stake in Eurogenetics in Belgium is acquired.
The company purchases a stake in General Chemical (Soda Ash) Company in New Jersey.
Full control of Weiss Scientific is acquired.
Full control of Eurogenetics is acquired.
The company establishes a production subsidiary in Korea.
Full control is gained of Nippon Silica Glass, TosoHaas (renamed Tosoh Biosep) and Tosoh Akzo (renamed Tosoh Finechem).
The company unifies all biosciences operations under the Tosoh Bioscience name.

Company History:

Tosoh Corporation is one of Japan's leading manufacturers of industrial and specialty chemicals. With origins as a producer of soda ash and caustic soda, Tosoh remains a major producer of chlor-alkali chemicals. Since the 1990s, the company has also focused on building up its vinyls production and other petrochemicals capacity, and in the 2000s Tosoh has begun to emphasize its development of chemicals for the biosciences field. The company also produces materials for the electronics and semiconductor industries, including quartz, electrolytic manganese dioxide, and zirconia. At the same time, as a partner in the Holland Sweetener joint venture, Tosoh is one of the world's top producers of the artificial sweetener aspartame. The company's operations are grouped under three primary divisions: Petrochemicals, which represents 28.9 percent of group revenues; Basic, including chlor-alkali and cement, which adds 28.6 percent to the company's annual revenues; and Specialty Chemicals, including organic chemicals, quartz products, scientific instruments, and other specialty materials, which contributes some 34 percent to group sales. A highly vertically integrated company (at its main site, Tosoh operates its own coal-fired power plant producing more than 525,000 kW), Tosho's Services division provides transportation, warehousing, IT, and other support services. In addition to its operations in Japan, Tosoh has established a global presence, with some 50 foreign subsidiaries in the United States, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Switzerland, Greece, and elsewhere. In 2004, the Tokyo Stock Exchange-listed company's revenues topped ¥484,389 billion ($4.7 billion). Madoka Tashiro serves as company chairman and CEO.

Origins in the Soda Ash Industry

Tosoh Corporation was founded in 1935 as Toyo Soda Manufacturing Corporation in order to produce sodium carbonate, better known as soda ash. The company built its first factory in the Yamaguchi prefecture, near Tokyo. The plant's location on the Japanese coast gave it a ready source of brine, from which both soda ash and caustic soda are produced. The site remained the later Tosoh Corporation's main production facility, one of the largest in Japan, into the 21st century, boasting more than 3.7 million square meters of production space, it's own port facility, and even it's own coal-fired power generating plant, which ultimately reached a capacity of more than 525,000 kW.

Production at the plant, known as the Nanyo Manufacturing Complex, began in 1936. The company's initial production was geared toward the glass industry. As its soda ash production increased over the next decade, Toyo began looking for means to make use of its production byproducts. One offshoot of the group's soda ash production was the development of a cement manufacturing arm, using the ash waste from the soda ash production process. In 1942, the company began producing bromine as well, an element naturally occurring in brine and the only liquid nonmetallic element. The following year, Toyo expanded its production again, this time launching production of sodium hydroxide, or caustic soda.

In the years following the war, as the Japanese economy revved up to become one of the world's most vibrant, Toyo continued to expand both its production capacity and its range of products. During the next decades, Toyo's range of products expanded to include fused phosphate, chlorinated paraffin, ammonium chloride, and phosphoric acid. The company's product expansion also led it to build a second facility, at Yokkaichi, in 1971. That plant, in addition to the production of caustic soda and chlorine derivatives, also played a major role in Toyo's diversification into the petrochemicals sector. Among the petrochemical products developed at the Yokkaichi Manufacturing Complex were petroleum resins, polyethylene, and propylene.

International Growth Begins in the 1960s

Toyo's expansion meanwhile had taken it to the United States, where it opened its first sales office in New York in 1964. The following year, Toyo formed a joint venture with Stauffer Chemical Co. Ltd., based in the United States. That operation, originally known as Toyo Stauffer Chemical Co., launched production of dicalcium phosphate in 1966, before adding titanium trichloride in 1967 and alkyl aluminiums in 1969. Other products added by the joint venture included Solvay catalysts in 1977 and electronic grade metal alkyls in 1982. After merging with the Netherlands' Akzo, the joint venture became known as Tosoh Akzo in 1987, before adopting the name Tosoh Finechem.

In the early 1970s, the company also entered Europe, launching a joint venture with Mitsubishi Corp. to produce and distribute electrolytic manganese dioxide, used in the production of automotive batteries. Formed in 1973, the company built a plant in Thessaloniki, Greece. Production was launched in 1975. In that year, Toyo grew by acquisition, taking over fellow Japanese producer Tekkosha Co. Ltd., a company founded in 1925.

In 1976, Toyo added a European sales and marketing subsidiary called Amto International, based in Amsterdam. That subsidiary changed its name to Tosoh Europe BV in 1987. The company also began seeking new production opportunities. In 1975, it launched a polyvinyl chloride operation in a joint venture with Mitsui Co. in Indonesia. That subsidiary, PT Standard Toyo Polymer, began production of PVC at a plant in Merak, on the island of Java, in 1976. In another joint venture, Delamine BV, created with Akzo Nobel, the company began producing ethylene amines in Amersfoort, in the Netherlands, in 1978.

In 1979, Toyo established a full-fledged subsidiary in the United States, which later became known as Tosoh USA. That subsidiary then became the company's primary sales and marketing arm in the United States. In the 1980s, the company, which formally adopted the name Tosoh Corporation in 1987, launched a drive to establish a manufacturing presence in the United States as well.

The company launched a joint venture with Rohm and Haas Company in the United States. TosoHaas, as the new company was called, enabled Tosoh to enter the production of bioseparations in 1987. The following year, a joint venture with the Netherlands' DSM, called Holland Sweetener Corporation, brought Tosoh into the production aspartame. The joint venture, initially created in 1985, became the leading European producer of the artificial sweetener by the turn of the 21st century.

Major Japanese Chemicals Producer in the 2000s

Acquisitions and joint ventures played an important role in Tosoh's expansion, particularly its growth overseas. Acquisitions also enabled the company to carry out an expansion of its product lines. In the late 1980s, the company extended its operations into silica glass, quartz, zirconia, and related materials used for the electronics and semi-conductor industries. In 1989, for example, the company acquired Nippon Silica Glass USA, a leading producer of quartz and other silica glass materials. That purchase also brought Tosoh into the production of zirconia grinding media, used for manufacturing multi-layer ceramic capacitors. The company's zirconia range included zirconia powder, fully integrated zirconia, and zirconia ceramics. Under Tosoh, the division, already one of the world's leading producers of zirconia, expanded its production capacity from 200 metric tons per year to more than 620 metric tons per year at the turn of the century. By then, Tosoh claimed 60 percent of the global market for zirconia and 90 percent of the market for high-grade zirconia used in fiber optics and related high-technology applications.

Other late 1980s acquisitions included the purchase of the specialty metals division of Varian Associates in 1988. Renamed Tosoh SMD, the company produced sputtering targets and high purity thin film deposition materials for the semiconductor industry.

Tosoh also entered Malaysia and the specialty resins market with the purchase of a stake in that country's Industrial Resins (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd. In 1989, Tosoh acquired a stake in Weiss Scientific Glass Blowing Co. Based in Oregon, with operations in the United Kingdom, the company had been founded in 1970 by Gunther Weiss, producing quartz products for the newly developing semiconductor industry. By the mid-1970s, the Weiss company boasted a production facility of more than 12,000 square feet. With Tosoh's involvement, that plant was expanded to 60,000 square feet in 1989.

Tosoh acquired 100 percent control of the Weiss company in 1993. The company then set out to expand its silica glass capacity, forming the joint venture Nippon Silica Glass Europe, which launched production at its own facility in 1996. The company acquired Cryco Quartz Inc. in 1995, and then expanded its Oregon production site to 100,000 square feet in 1998. In 2001, Tosoh merged Weiss Scientific, Cryco Quartz, and NSG Europe into a single entity, Tosoh Quartz Inc.

Back at home, Tosoh grew in 1990 through the acquisition of Japanese rival Shin-Daikyowa. That company had been founded in 1968, then merged with Chubu Chemical Co. in 1978. Shin-Daikyowa had acquired a styrene monomer plant that year and grew into a prominent Japanese petrochemicals producer.

Tosoh's growth remained strong throughout the 1990s. The company acquired a stake in New Jersey-based General Chemical (Soda Ash) Company in 1992, which followed on the purchase of shares in Eurogenetics NV, based in Belgium, in 1990. By 1994, Tosoh had completed its acquisition of Eurogenetics. The company had formed a new joint venture in the Philippines with Mitsubishi, the Bank of the Philippine Islands, and Mabuhay Vinyl Corporation. That company was named Philippine Resins Industries.

Asia became a particular target market for growth in the late 1990s and early 2000s for Tosoh. The company launched a subsidiary in South Korea in 1995 and also added new operations in Indonesia, called PT Satomo Indovyl Polymer. The following year, Tosoh entered Singapore through its Tosoh SMD division.

In 2000, Tosoh acquired full control of both Nippon Silica Glass and Tosoh Akzo, the latter company becoming Tosoh Finechem. Also in 2000, Tosoh expanded its sputtering targets business with the purchase of California's SET, renamed as Tosoh SET. Tosoh also took full control of its joint venture with Rohm and Haas, TosoHaas, which was by then a leading producer of bioseparations and chromatography materials, renaming the company Toosh Biosep.

At the beginning of 2003, Tosoh moved to unify all of its biotechnology operations under a single banner, Tosoh Bioscience. This process involved the re-branding of the group's various diagnostic and scientific-oriented companies, which included Eurogenetics, Tosoh Biosep, and San Francisco-based Tosoh Medics.

Turning toward mid-decade, Tosoh announced its intention to step up its chlor-alkili production in response to the fast-growing demand in the Asian region. In May 2003, Tosoh spent ¥17 billion to add some 150,000 tons of aniline production capacity, which would enable the production of raw materials used in making polyurethane. In February 2004, the company acquired majority control of its Philippines resins joint venture with Mitsubishi in order to solidify its position as a dominant chlor-alkili producer in the region.

In the meantime, Tosoh's entered the Chines market with the establishment of a sales subsidiary in Shanghai in April 2004. This move provided Tosoh with a vast new market for its chemicals range. The company also made plans to begin manufacturing in China itself. In December 2004, the company neared approval for launching a project to build a polyvinyl chloride plant in Guangzhou with a capacity of 200,000 metric tons per year. Tosoh hoped to have that plant operational by 2006. From a small producer of soda ash, Tosoh Corporation had grown into a leading Japanese and global producer of diversified materials.

Principal Subsidiaries: Delamine B.V. (Netherlands); General Chemical (Soda Ash) Partners (USA); Holland Sweetener Company V.O.F. (Netherlands); Holland Sweetener North America, Inc. (USA); Mabuhay Vinyl Corporation (Philippines); P.T. Satomo Indovyl Polymer (Indonesia); P.T. Standard Toyo Polymer (Indonesia); Philippine Resins Industries, Inc.; Tosoh (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. (China); Tosoh America, Inc.; Tosoh Bioscience GmbH (Germany); Tosoh Bioscience LLC (USA); Tosoh Bioscience N.V. (Belgium); Tosoh Bioscience Srl. (Italy); Tosoh Bioscience U.K.; Tosoh Bioscience, A.G. (Switzerland); Tosoh Bioscience, Inc. (USA); Tosoh Europe B.V. (Netherlands); Tosoh Hellas A.I.C (Greece); Tosoh Polyvin Corporation (Philippines); Tosoh Quartz Co., Ltd. (Taiwan); Tosoh Quartz Ltd. (U.K.); Tosoh Quartz, Inc. (USA); Tosoh SET, Inc. (USA); Tosoh SGM USA, Inc. (USA); Tosoh Singapore, Pte., Ltd. (Singapore); Tosoh SMD Korea, Ltd.; Tosoh SMD Taiwan Co., Ltd; Tosoh USA, Inc. (Ohio).

Principal Divisions: Petrochemicals; Basic; Specialty Chemicals.

Principal Competitors: Shandong Ocean Chemical Company Ltd.; Dalian Chemical Industry Co.; Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corp.; Solvay S.A.; Zigong Honghe Chemical Company Ltd.; Celanese AG; Kaneka Corp.; Hebei Tangshan Soda Factory; Entreprise Miniere et Chimique S.A.; Formosa Plastics Corp.; Hanwha Chemical Corp.

Further Reading:

  • "Anniversary Celebration," Pharmaceutical Technology Europe, November 16, 2004, p. 7.
  • Hariharan, Malini, "Tosoh Corp Faces Rising Costs," ACN: Asian Chemical News, March 22, 2004, p. 6.
  • Hunter, David, and Mollet, Andrew, "Tosoh Stays the Course," Chemical Week, October 24, 2001, p. 33.
  • McPadden, Michael, "Tosoh Sees Further Change After Difficult Fiscal First Half," Chemical Market Reporter, December 17, 2001, 23.
  • Sutton, Susan, "Growing with Demand," Ceramic Industry, June 2001, p. 18.
  • "Tosoh Announces Global Brand Name," Ceramic Industry, February 2001, p. 12.
  • "Tosoh Corp. Unifies Companies," LC-GC North America, March 21, 2003, p. 238.
  • "Tosoh Doubles PVC Capacity," ACN: Asian Chemical News, December 6, 2004, p. 21.
  • "Tosoh Hunted on TSE on New Virus Detection Method," Jiji, December 24, 2004.

Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 70. St. James Press, 2005.