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Business trends

Japan snatches up US companies at record pace

211 acquisitions were made this year through October

Japan's Renesas agreed to buy America's Integrated Device Technology for $6.7 billion in September.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Acquisitions of U.S. companies by Japanese counterparts are at record levels as enterprises take advantage of low interest rates at home to quickly expand their global operations.

Deals with U.S. companies numbered 211 in January through October, surpassing the record of 193 set 28 years ago, when Japan was at the height of its bubble economy. Led by its technology sector in fields like artificial intelligence, the growing American economy is an attractive investment destination. Meanwhile, Chinese companies are hamstrung by trade tensions with the U.S., which appear to have hampered their acquisition activity.

Overall international deals by Japanese companies reached 620, according to research company Recof, on course to surpass the 672 annual record reached in 2017. In value terms, deals in the 10-month period hit nearly 16 trillion yen ($141 billion), already exceeding the 11.21 trillion yen annual record from 2015.

Big acquisitions like Takeda Pharmaceutical's purchase of Irish drugmaker Shire pushed up the total value of 2018 deals. Vigorous expansion efforts by mid-tier companies lifted the number of deals.

In June, eyeglass and contact lens maker Seed acquired a British contact lens company for 1.2 billion yen, looking to strengthen European sales channels. Tokyo-based Golf Digest Online spent 2.1 billion yen to raise its stake in U.S. company Golftech  boost retail operations.

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