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SBD Global/August 29, 2012/People and Pop Culture

Chinese Exec Shakes Up Japan's Honma Golf After Acquiring Golf Club Maker

Honma Golf exec and Chinese businessman LIU JIANGUO has "shaken up" the company, a "once-venerable Japanese golf club maker that is now emerging from the stigma of a mid-2000s bankruptcy under the wing" of Chinese-controlled Marlion Holdings, according to KYODO. Marlion Holdings rescued Honma Golf in '10 in one of China's "most visible takeovers" of a Japanese company. At golf shops in China, visitors expect "the glamour associated with the bourgeois sport" in the country. Therefore, Liu's "image-conscious approach proved successful, propelling sales of expensive products" in Japan. The 43-year-old has "emerged as a prominent business executive after growing a small company into a major appliance maker" in just 10 years and is also one of the richest men in Shanghai. The takeover of Honma Golf by Chinese interests two years ago "came just as Japan faced the imminent prospect of losing its status as the world's second-largest economy" to China. Honma Golf was "lagging rival golf club makers in competition for media exposure," so Liu "gave the green light to coughing up big for a promising Japanese player" MASAMICHI UEHIRA this year. His decision "was justified" in June when Uehira placed second in the Japan Tour Championship, giving Honma the brand exposure it has sought after for a long time. Despite seeing growth, Liu dismissed the possibility of Honma Golf "joining the exodus" to move production offshore. Liu: "Now that we have acquired a Japanese brand, why should we transfer production to China? 'Made in Japan' is our advantage" (KYODO, 8/28).
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