Sony Outlines Net Banking Plans

TOKYO (03/30/2000) - Sony Corp. today made official plans to establish a retail Internet banking service and introduced the two partners it will work with in launching the service.

The announcement, made by Sony president Nobuyuki Idei at a Tokyo press conference this afternoon, came after the company's board of directors formally approved the plans at a morning board meeting. The company will now begin the procedure of obtaining a banking license and aims to start operations in the first half of 2001.

The Sony Net Bank will be capitalized at 37.5 billion yen (US$355.4 million) with Sony providing 30 billion yen, Sakura Bank Co. Ltd. providing 6 billion yen and J.P. Morgan & Co. Inc. investing 1.5 billion yen. The three companies will hold stakes of 80 percent, 16 percent and 4 percent respectively.

Sony is bringing the partners on board because it needs expertise from each company.

It will draw on Sakura Bank, one of Japan's largest banks, for its expertise in the sector, help in developing a business plan for the service and its ATM network, which customers of the new bank will be able to use. In addition, Sakura Bank said it is willing to provide the computer systems it is currently developing in preparation for the launch of its own Internet banking service with Fujitsu Ltd.

From J.P. Morgan, the new bank will draw expertise in the private banking sector. Sony said it hopes to provide such services, and the U.S.-based investment bank last week launched a new online private banking service in its home market.

At a press conference announcing the venture, Sony's partners were full of praise for the new bank.

"The bank that Sony will create on the Net is bound to succeed," said Sakura Bank chairman Shigeaki Okada who continued to forecast 100 percent success for the company. For J.P. Morgan, Bruce Carnegie Brown, chairman of J.P. Morgan Securities Asia Pte. Ltd., said, "We believe that the Sony Net Bank will quickly establish itself as the leading Internet bank in Japan."

When asked about Sakura's strategy in the Internet banking sector, Okada said he saw no conflict between its own service and the new Sony bank.

"By Sony's entry, Net banking in Japan will achieve recognition in society," Okada said, expressing hope that it will draw people to online banking services and end up benefiting Sakura's own service.

Sony, in Tokyo, can be found online at http://www.sony.co.jp/. Sakura Bank, in Tokyo, can be found online at http://www.sakurabank.co.jp/. J.P. Morgan, in New York, can be reached at +1-212-483-2323 or online at http://www.jpmorgan.com.

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