Panasonic Wins Control of Sanyo

The deal gives Panasonic Sanyo's coveted environmental technologies such as rechargeable batteries.

Panasonic Corp. announced on Dec. 10 it had secured a controlling stake in smaller rival Sanyo Electric Co. in a $4.6 billion takeover that revamps Japan's troubled electronics industry. Panasonic said it would buy a stake of 50.19% in Sanyo. Sanyo is now set to become a subsidiary of Panasonic, creating Japan's number two electronics maker, behind Hitachi Ltd.

The deal gives Panasonic Sanyo's coveted environmental technologies such as rechargeable batteries -- seen as a promising sector given growing concerns about global warming.

Panasonic first announced in December 2008 that it had struck a deal with heavyweight investors, including Goldman Sachs, to buy a controlling stake in Sanyo and form an industry heavyweight amid the global economic downturn. The takeover offer was delayed by regulatory issues and was launched on November 5. Sanyo has agreed to sell some of its rechargeable battery manufacturing operations to address the concerns of competition authorities in Japan, China, Europe and the United States.

The deal comes as Japan's high-tech giants streamline their operations in an effort to recover from a severe industry slump sparked by the global economic downturn. Panasonic is cutting 15,000 jobs and closing dozens of plants as it struggles to recover from its first annual loss for six years. Sanyo has also cut thousands of jobs as it attempts to return to profit. Sanyo was forced to raise cash by issuing several billion dollars' worth of stock in 2006 to shore up its capital base, effectively handing over control to Goldman Sachs and other financial firms.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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