In an interesting coincidence, the two Reliance groups — headed by brothers Mukesh and Anil Ambani — today announced separate ‘long-term strategic’ deals with two Japanese giants which have a common link of ‘Mitsui’ brand.
Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group’s financial services arm Reliance Capital has roped in Japan’s largest financial institution Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank (SMTB) as a strategic partner for its proposed banking foray and other business activities.
On the other hand, Mukesh-led Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has signed a long-term agreement with Japan’s biggest shipping company Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) for transportation of liquefied ethane from North America to India.
Both the deals, announced within a gap of few hours, materialised within months of Prime Minister Narendra Modi pitching for stronger business ties between the two countries during his visit to Japan in September.
Both MOL and SMTB, although separate entities, are significantly large players in their respective areas and carry a common ‘Mitsui’ brand.
The two Mitsui groups have separate entities across sectors in Japan, similar to the two Reliance groups in India.
MOL’s major shareholders include Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Company, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Nomura Trust and Banking Co and Mizuho Bank, as also US-based Bank of New York Mellon and State Street Bank.
While MOL is part of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (SMFG), SMTB forms the core of Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Group (SMTG).
SMFG’s Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp runs Japan’s second largest bank, while SMTG has the fourth largest banking entity in its fold.
The roots of the Mitsui Group date back to the beginning of the 17th century to a merchant called Mitsui Hachirobe- Takatoshi, who is credited with founding the line of Mitsui.
His ancestors were samurai warriors, but his father later started a pawn-broker business and a store. Takatoshi later in 1683 opened a money exchange and his children and subsequent generations further expanded the business, creating the House of Mitsui, which set up Japan’s first private sector bank, the Mitsui Bank (now Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation) in 1876.
On the other hand, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Group is a major trust banking group in Japan, founded in April 2011 as the largest trust bank group in Japan through the share exchange between Chuo Mitsui Trust Holdings, Inc and Sumitomo Trust and Banking Co.
It was originally established in 1925 as the former Sumitomo Trust Company.
Its primary businesses include retail and wholesale financial services, stock transfer agency services, real estate, fiduciary services and global markets business.