Yasuo Masumoto, President of the $12.6bn tractor and heavy equipment maker Kubota Corporation, said in a recent interview (in Japanese, subscription only) that he was “thinking of appointing a foreign director”. More than 50% of Kubota’s turnover is overseas and Masumoto reckons that in 4-5 years there will no longer be any Japanese senior executives in overseas subsidiaries – currently 80% of the overseas heads are Japanese, but in each case the number two is non-Japanese. “I’m beginning to tell the Japanese to come home” says Masuda.
“It’s true that non-Japanese are not the types to totally devote themselves to the company, but actually, maybe because we let them be autonomous, mysteriously, they tend not to leave.”
In Europe, Kubota is headquartered in France, with a tractor production line in Argenteuil. Europe represents around 10-12% of total revenues, helped by the acquisition of Norwegian company Kverneland, in 2012. The £130m UK operation is now headed by a British Managing Director (Dave Roberts, an alumnus of our Japan Intercultural Consulting open seminars), for the first time, as of 2013.
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