Japan's Sumitomo Corporation has purchased about 320 million yen in shares (equivalent to 45% of shares) of SAS Automotive Services Ltd, a subsidiary of Iraq’s largest automotive business, the Sardar Group through a third-party allocation of shares.
The company claims that this is the first private investment and joint venture by a Japanese company in the country following the end of the Iraq War.
Following the investment in SAS, Sumitomo Corporation will launch new service station in Sulaymaniyah in the Kurdistan Regional Government and another one in Baghdad in Central Government this month, besides existing stations in Dohuk and Erbil. It will then open another one in Basra in the south by the end of this fiscal year. Sumitomo Corporation is also planning to open service stations in Mosul and Kirkuk in stages.
Iraq has a population of 32 million and the fourth largest crude oil reserves in the world. Because of its high potential, the country is expected to exhibit rapid economic growth.
In 1966, Sumitomo Corporation established an office in Baghdad, where it has since operated wide-ranging businesses, primarily in the areas of automobiles, construction equipment, steel, and communications equipment. The office has a steady sales record, having shipped about 290,000 Toyota cars and 10,000 Hino trucks, as well as more than 30,000 units of construction equipment to the present.
The Gulf War that broke out in 1991 forced Sumitomo Corporation to temporarily withdraw from the country, leading it to dispatch dedicated personnel to Jordan, which neighbors Iraq, in and after 2003 when the large-scale fighting ended. In 2009 Sumitomo Corporation re-opened its Baghdad Office, becoming the first Japanese company to do so following the Iraq War.