Mitsui mulls expanding into food, drugs sectors to offset profit drop

Mitsui mulls expanding into food, drugs sector to offset profit drop

Truck transports coal in the Moatize mine. Credit: Marcelo Coelho/ Vale.

Japanese giant Mitsui & Co. is considering to expand business beyond its current mining and energy focus to include health care, retail, farms-related infrastructure and mobility, as the company get ready to face a forecast 22% drop in profit this year.

The company, Japan's No.1 oil trader, created a new division in April to evaluate deals in those areas, and in the past six months has made investments in the U.S. and Africa focusing on the infrastructure that supports transportation and mining, Bloomberg reports.

Incoming chief executive officer, Tatsuo Yasunaga, said the expansion was  “well overdue” and that what the firm needed was “to strengthen in areas that are not directly affected when commodity prices drop.”

He added that Mitsui also planned to invest in ventures around energy and mining projects, such as maintenance, machinery and leasing services, and that the recent acquisition of a stake in the Moatize coal mine, rail and port project in Mozambique was a good example of this vision.

“Besides hauling coal, we could be handling food and other cargo that will be in demand as Africa develops,” Yasunaga told Bloomberg. “We want to be a part of that expansion and support it with logistics and transportation.”

Currently, the energy and mining sectors are at the core of Mitsui &Co.’s business. Energy, including oil and gas, accounted for over half of the firm’s consolidated EBITDA and net earnings in the first half of the 2015 fiscal year. Its mineral and metal business (including iron ore) is also comparatively large, accounting for about a quarter of consolidated EBITDA and net earnings.