Japan's biggest trading company is diving into the information business with the purchase of a 17% stake in the Asian subsidiary of Guthy-Renker, an infomercial producer partly owned by Rupert Murdoch.
Nissho Iwai Group, which is expected to announce the $9-million investment today, wants to use the purchase to develop infomercials for Asian consumers. Despite Japan's fragile economic situation, Minoru Takagi, assistant manager of the 70-year-old Tokyo-based firm's media business department's satellite business section, said he believes the purchase is "advantageous."
Guthy-Renker is 37.5% owned by Murdoch's News Corp. It is based in Palm Desert but has its main production office in Santa Monica. Nissho Iwai also has links to Murdoch through a satellite TV venture.
Ten-year-old Guthy-Renker, which has about 150 employees worldwide and $350 million in annual revenue, is the nation's top infomercial producer. Among the products it's pitched: Victoria Principal's Principal Secret, the Fitness Flyer and Anthony Robbins' motivational items.