Sumitomo forms natural rubber ventures

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Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd. will establish two companies in Thailand with Thai Eastern Group Co. Ltd.

The joint ventures are:

* Sumirubber Thai Eastern Plantation, which will oversee a natural rubber plantation. The companies will invest $12 million in the joint venture (Sumitomo 49%, Thai Eastern 51%). It will begin operations in 2014.

* Sumirubber Thai Eastern Corp. The natural rubber processing plant will cost $6 million (Sumitomo will own 70% of the company) and be established by February 2010. Its operations will start in 2011.

Sumitomo says the joint ventures companies are being formed "to stabilize the quality and procurement of natural rubber for promotion of  technology development of eco-tires," and "to alleviate possible risk due to fluctuation in the price of natural rubber."

As a result of the joint ventures, Sumitomo will speed up its research and development activities "to enhance the performance of fossil resource-free tires and high fuel-efficient tires to protect world environment."

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