Message from the Chairman & CEO

We will continue to adhere to the ethos of our founder. Specifically, we will be a visionary leader, we will act with integrity, we will value diversity, and we will all continue to take on challenges with passion.

This year marks the 160th anniversary of ITOCHU Corporation’s founding in 1858. On May 2, 2018, we plan to announce our next medium-term management plan, which will begin in this milestone year.

Over the past three years (fiscal 2016 to fiscal 2018), under the “Brand-new Deal 2017” medium-term management plan, we have worked toward the goals of building a solid earnings base to generate ¥400.0 billion in consolidated net profit and strengthening our financial position.

First, we have aggressively strengthened non-resource sector businesses by, for example, deepening cooperation with the CITIC and CP groups. By doing so, we have realized an earnings structure that is relatively unaffected by resource prices. As a result, while other trading companies were being forced to record major impairment losses due to downturns in resource prices, in fiscal 2016 ITOCHU ranked first among trading companies in consolidated net profit. In fiscal 2017, as a result of steady profit growth in the non-resource sector, we recorded consolidated net profit of ¥352.2 billion—our highest ever. And, for fiscal 2018, the final year of the medium-term management plan, we will almost certainly break our record again by achieving our goal of ¥400.0 billion in consolidated net profit.

We have also made progress in strengthening our financial position. In fiscal 2017, we achieved a NET DER of 0.97—our best ever. In November 2017, we received an A rating from Moody’s Japan, marking the first time ITOCHU has had an A rating from Moody’s in 20 years, since May 1998. Furthermore, we have been implementing work-style reforms, such as the morning-focused working system we introduced in fiscal 2014, ahead of other companies. As part of these reforms, we have introduced initiatives to help individuals dealing with cancer and other long-term illnesses balance treatment and work. These efforts have earned ITOCHU recognition as a leader in working-style reforms and health and productivity management.

Lastly, to further enhance returns, in fiscal 2018, in addition to share buybacks, we plan to raise the guaranteed minimum dividend ¥15 from the fiscal 2017 level to ¥70 per share, our highest ever.

Today, the rapid advance of AI, IoT, and other new technologies is driving a tremendous transformation in industry that is being called the “fourth industrial revolution.” By nimbly responding to such change and creating a new vision of what a trading company can be, we will further develop the ITOCHU Group and continue working to meet the expectations of our stakeholders. We look forward to your continued support and guidance.

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Masahiro Okafuji
Chairman & CEO
April 1, 2018