Sojitz Corporation


The Nissho Iwai group, in association with major corporations in the industry has set up an e-commerce company, Firsthands, to manage the direct sales of semiconductors and electronic components.

Jan. 24, 2002

TOKYO(January 24, 2002)-- Nissho Iwai, in cooperation with eBisTrade,Inc., Compaq Computer Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, UFJ Bank Limited, NTT-X, Inc. and others, has jointly established Firsthands, making it possible for semiconductors and electronic parts to be sold directly through an e- commerce system.

Firsthands will construct its trading site on the Internet at (, through which makers of semiconductors and electronic parts can market goods directly to medium and small-to-medium sized manufacturers. It will start to accept applications for buyer-memberships and will also commence Internet trading in late January. 

Suppliers planning to participate in the venture include such leading manufacturers in the semiconductor and electronic components field as TDK Corporation, Nippon Chemi-con Corporation, ON Semiconductor Japan Ltd., Shindengen Electric Manufacturing Co., Ltd., Tokyo Den-On Co., Ltd., and others (about ten companies in the first instance) and, in the PC and server field, Compaq Computer Corporation. The number of participating companies, particularly in the semiconductor and electronic component field, is expected to gradually increase, reaching about fifty in the year 2003. 

As for buyers, several tens of companies, mainly in the communications industry, have already expressed a desire to become members. It is anticipated that the number of buyer-member companies will rise to about one thousand companies in the year 2003. 

Internationalization and an unprecedented slump in the IT business has forced companies in the semiconductor and electronic components industry into fierce competition for survival. Under such conditions, small-to-medium sized manufacturers have been unable to make required system investments, resulting in persistent inefficiency. The digital divide with major manufacturers seems to be widening. Meanwhile, major suppliers of semiconductors and electronic components find trading with small-to-medium sized companies to be hardly profitable because of low returns and credit problems, and so have not adopted positive sales policies towards them. 

A number of electronic market places have already been established for semiconductors and electronic components. In the main, however, they have been set up by selling agents and wholesalers with the prime business aim of matching demand with supply, concentrating on such activities as urgent deliveries and sales from stock. For this reason, their role has remained supplementary in the procurements of medium and small-to-medium sized companies, and trading volumes have stayed small. 

Against this background, Firsthands clearly distinguishes itself from other e-commerce sites. Being equipped with full-scale financial functions, it is in fact the first Web site in Japan to make available the regular trading which up till now has been scarcely possible. 

Firsthands Company outline: 

Established : 
October 10, 2001

Headquarters Location: 
2-3-1 Daiba, Minato-ku, 
President : Yoshiharu Harima
Capital : 250 million yen

Investment Ratio: 
56% Nissho Iwai Co. 
17% eBisTrade Inc.
10% Compaq Computer Corporation
6% Nisho Iwai HK Ltd. 
5% UFJ Bank Ltd. 
5% Microsoft Corporation 
1% NTT-X, Inc. 

Annual Turnover: 
50 billion yen (projected for the year 2005)  

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