Ripplewood and Accenture Join Forces to Create B2B Supply Solution

SupplyJapan.Com Will Target MRO Sourcing Needs of Japanese Corporate Customers

TOKYO, September 1, 2000 -- Ripplewood Holdings L.L.C., the U.S.-based private investment firm, and Accenture, the global management and technology consulting firm, announced today the formation of a new business-to-business eCommerce venture. The venture, tentatively named, will strategically source factory MRO (maintenance, repair and operating) items for Japanese corporate customers.

Ripplewood and Accenture are working closely with a number of significant Japanese manufacturing firms as potential customers, including Toshiba Corporation and Nippon Steel Corporation, to establish a presence in the Japanese marketplace for The two companies will cooperate with the consortium in its feasibility study for this venture. Nippon Steel will also work with the new company in developing its IT system. In addition, Grainger, the leading MRO distributor in North America plans to take an equity position and contribute its expertise in MRO distribution and e-commerce.

Wholesaler Okaya & Co., is interested in assisting the venture in sourcing and logistics functions, as well as in becoming a shareholder., which will initially be incorporated as a "planning company," plans to begin pilot operations late this year and officially begin selling factory MRO items in the first quarter of 2001.

Factory MRO items include tools, lighting equipment, cable and wire, electrical products, safety-related goods, paint and other supplies which are used to maintain, repair and operate manufacturing facilities. The domestic market size of these indirect manufacturing items is estimated to be 3 trillion-yen. will not only offer a "marketplace" for MRO supplies and other industrial goods, but strategically source, sell and deliver factory MRO items as a full-service distributor, utilizing the Internet and other information technologies to lower costs for its Japanese customers.

Specifically, will reduce customer costs by streamlining internal purchasing processes, consolidating purchasing through strategic sourcing, and by gaining supply chain and process efficiencies through the deployment of procurement, logistics and e-Commerce technologies.

Nippon Steel is expected, in addition to become a major customer of, to provide a major portion of IT service for the new company by capitalizing on its track record as a major system solution provider in the country.

Toshiba has been assisting the business concept of from the outset by providing support to the initial study on MRO purchases. Toshiba will continue to support the venture in the feasibility study to prove the customer benefits the venture will bring and to design strategic sourcing processes.

Ripplewood Holdings LLC, established in 1995, is a New York based private equity firm. The firm, through its 120 billion-yen fund raised this year, invests in Japanese manufacturing and service companies to develop, restructure and revitalize them. Ripplewood’s investment principle is to identify industries which it believes attractive and to work with seasoned managers to form an Industrial Partnership.