Late Thursday (or perhaps early Friday morning, depending on where you were), Japanese industrial conglomerates Hitachi and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries announced an agreement to integrate their Thermal Power Generation businesses into a new joint venture. The new business, to be formed by January 1, 2014, will be owned 65-35 by Mitsubishi Heavy and Hitachi, respectively.

Hitachi and Mitsubishi Heavy already cooperate in other heavy industrial areas, including steel production machinery, overseas railway systems, and hydroelectric power generation.

The two companies say their thermal power businesses are in many ways complementary. For example, Mitsubishi Heavy specializes in large gas turbines, while Hitachi does small- and medium-gas turbines. Geographically, Mitsubishi Heavy is strong in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, while Hitachi has advantages in Europe and Africa.

Hitachi's Power Systems unit had $10.1 billion in annual sales in the fiscal year ending in March. Mitsubishi Heavy's Power Systems unit did $11.6 billion in the same year. These businesses included revenues from such activities as wind, hydroelectric, and nuclear, in addition to thermal.