Sony, Sakura, J.P. Morgan set up Net bank

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TOKYO--Japanese electronics giant Sony Corp. on March 30 unveiled a broad strategy for increasing its Internet network that included setting up a Net bank with Sakura Bank and J.P. Morgan.

The Internet bank will start service in the first half of 2001, and Sony will hold a 80% stake in the company that will be capitalized at $355 million. Japan's Sakura Bank will have a 16% share and J.P Morgan will have a 4% stake. "We want finance to be one of the pillars of our business operations," Sony President Nobuyuki Idei said at a press conference.

Sony wants to tap into Sakura Bank's network of ATMs for its Net bank plan as well as install outlets in convenience stores and other retail sites across Japan. The major Japanese bank can also help Sony get a banking license.

Sony will ask J.P Morgan to provide personal financial advice tools like the ones it offers at www.morganonline.com.

If all goes as planned for the electronics company, it will have around $9.3 billion in deposits within five years as well as a finance arm to help it facilitate its e-commerce operations.

Sony already has an insurance company, and it helped bankroll the online brokerage Monex, which is one of the leaders in the field in Japan.

Japanese Internet giant Softbank Corp. has already entered the finance game by leading a group of investors in acquiring Nippon Credit Bank, which was under state control after it collapsed due to enormous debts.

Retailer Ito-Yokado Co. is also planning a Net bank system similar to Sony, with ATMs across the country, but the supermarket operator does not have an insurance or brokerage business in its family.

Copyright March 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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