三井物産株式会社, Mitsui & Co., Ltd., is the second-largest keiretsu
, employing nearly 14,000 people. It is headquartered in Chiyoda
, and its president is Shimizu Shinjiro
. They are listed on nine stock exchanges in five countries, and you can find Mitsui offices in Baghdad
, Phnom Penh
, and La Habana
, among many other exciting places.
"But I've never heard of them!" you're probably saying. There's a reason for this: Mitsui doesn't do much by itself. Instead, they do something they call "comprehensive business engineering," also known as joint ventures. Mitsui collaborates with other companies to create new companies, then skims the profits off the top and creates even more new companies.
Another reason you haven't heard of them is because most of their subsidiaries do work for other companies, not end consumers. For instance, Mitsui Oil is one of the world's largest oil companies: much of the oil that comes from the Middle East to Asia is drilled and shipped by Mitsui. Mitsui is also one of the world's largest IT consulting firms, logistics management firms, and energy dealers. They make quite a bit of their money as an agent for foreign companies wishing to do business in Japan, and as an agent for Japanese companies wanting to sell products in other countries.
Mitsui is organized into five operating groups:
- Metal Products and Minerals Group (iron ore mines, steel mills, aluminum, copper, precious metals)
- Machinery, Electronics, and Information Group (power plants, recycling centers, railway lines, GSM networks, marketing of foreign cars and aircraft, information technology consulting, cable TV, semiconductors)
- Chemical Group (plastics, methanol, pesticides, fertilizers, ammonia, iodine, titanium refining)
- Energy Group (oil exploration, shipping and marketing)
- Consumer Products and Services Group (retail consulting, commercial agriculture, food processing, apparel, real estate, cigarette distribution)
Sound like too much? Welcome to the world of Japanese mega-corporations