ITOCHU Announces Establishment of Joint Venture for Manufacture and Sale of Materials for Lithium-Ion Battery and Scheduled Start of Operations

June 10, 2011

ITOCHU Corporation (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Masahiro Okafuji, President & CEO; hereinafter “ITOCHU”) announced today that KUREHA Corporation (headquartered in Chuo-ku, Tokyo; Takao Iwasaki, President & CEO; hereinafter “KUREHA”) and ITOCHU have established a joint venture, Kureha Battery Materials Japan Co., Ltd. (hereinafter “KBMJ”) to sell anode materials for lithium-ion batteries (hereinafter “LiB”), to manage the relevant manufacturing subsidiaries, and to sell LiB binders. Aiming to earn annual sales of 20 billion yen in FY2015, the joint venture will commence operations on October 1.

Demand for LiB is expected to grow rapidly for applications in HEV, PHEV, and EV, and in stationary power sources for storing electricity, backed by a rising awareness of the environment and a trend to conserve resources and energy, in addition to uses in cell phones, laptop PCs, and electrical tools.
Given this background, KUREHA and ITOCHU have sought to make KUREHA’s materials the de facto standard by launching operations of KBMJ, leveraging KUREHA’s manufacturing capability and technological strength and ITOCHU’s management resources and integration skills, while further accelerating the global expansion of the battery materials business.
In cooperation with KUREHA’s New Materials Research Center and Battery Materials Technology Center, KBMJ will gather information on the issues and needs concerning LiB materials from customers, reflect them in manufacturing and sales activities, and endeavor to improve quality and cost performance.

The anode materials and LiB binders that are now sold by KUREHA will be handled by KBMJ from October 1.
The relevant subsidiaries for the anode materials described above are a company manufacturing anode materials of 1200 tons per year (for the increment announced in July 15 last year), which is to be established this summer and will commence operations in January 2012, and a company (CNPJ) manufacturing intermediate materials for anode materials, which is scheduled to commence operation in 2013. Both of these companies are 100% subsidiaries of KBMJ.

Profile of the Joint Venture

Company name Kureha Battery Materials Japan Co., Ltd.
Headquarters 3-3-2, Hamacho, Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

40,000,000 yen (to be increased in step with the development of the business)

Investment ratio KUREHA 70%, ITOCHU 30%
Fiscal year end March 31
President & CEO Hideo Nakatani (Senior Vice President and General Manager of Battery Materials Business Division, KUREHA Corporation)
Establishment date April 5, 2011
Operation start date October 1, 2011 (scheduled)
Planned total investment amount (up to 2015) Approx. 10 billion yen

Outline of the Products

  1. Anode materials for LiB
    In 1991, KUREHA commercialized CARBOTRON P, called hard carbon due to its structure, based on its technology of manufacturing activated carbon from petroleum pitch. Since then, CARBOTRON P has principally been used for large, industrial-use LiB, taking advantage of the charge/discharge characteristics and durability. With automobile and battery makers focused on developing LiB for vehicles, they have proceeded with tests of CARBOTRON P, and some manufacturers have begun to use it.
  2. LiB binder
    KUREHA was the first to start industrial production of KF POLYMER, vinylidene fluoride resin, in Japan in 1970 on the basis of its high molecular weight polymerization technology. Since then, because of its excellent fluoride resin features, including chemical resistance and electrical properties, and its well-balanced engineering plastic features, including moldability as great as that of general-purpose resin, KF POLYMER has been widely used for corrosion resistant valves and other general industrial products and for LiB binder. In terms of LiB binder, KUREHA has a track record over many years in small LiB for cell phone and laptop PC applications. Recent years have brought expectations of rapidly growing demand for LiB for mounting on vehicles and for large-sized LiB for stationary power sources to store electricity.

ITOCHU’s Initiatives in the LiB-Related Business

ITOCHU has stepped up its initiatives in the field of secondary batteries by continuing to position it as a growth area in its new medium-term management plan, Brand-New Deal 2012, which was introduced in April 2011. Specifically, ITOCHU has made an investment in a US LiB maker, Ener1, Inc., conducted a joint project with a major U.S. electric power company, Duke Energy Corporation for secondary use of storage batteries, and taken part in a joint venture announced here for the LiB-related materials business. In addition, efforts have been made to secure lithium resources through an investment in Simbol Mining Corporation, to develop a joint venture with Toda Kogyo Corporation in North America, and to develop a joint venture with Shanshan Group and Toda Kogyo Corporation in China for cathode materials for LiB. ITOCHU will continue to focus on the LiB-related materials business, making active investments.