Japan Leasing Corp, one of Japan’s major IBM main-frame leasing companies, is to invest in the Japanese end of US and European leaser Econocom International BV, which now claims to have the largest leasing and rental marketing network in the world. To hedge their bets in the competitive Japanese leasing market, several other companies are also investing in the Japanese subsidiaries of specialist US and European IBM leasing companies. The Japanese market differs from those in the US and Europe in that almost no-one buys machines, and manufacturers typically sell them to a quasi-state industry finance body – and have to agree to buy them back at a pre-set residual value when they come off lease. The effect of this cut-throat arrangement is that manufacturers are under enormous pressure to pare costs to a minimum and to innovate at a furious pace – evidenced by the fact that NEC introduced Honeywell- and Bull-compatible mainframes at performance levels never dreamed of by the companies responsible for the original designs. At a time, two years ago, when a typical DPS 7 in France was equivalent to a 4341 or small 4381 under DOS/VSE, NEC brought out the Acos 1500, which for a short time was the most powerful general purpose mainframe in the world – yet still ran an operating system enhanced from that of the DPS 7.