Panasonic Offers $9 Billion for Controlling Stake in Sanyo

By Mike Caggeso
Associate Editor
Money Morning

Panasonic Corp. (ADR:PC) said today (Friday) that it will spend up to $9 billion to acquire majority stake in rival Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd. (OTC:SANYY).

The merger would create Japan's second-largest electronics manufacturer behind Hitatchi Ltd. (ADR:HIT), as Panasonic is the world's No. 1 plasma TV maker and Sanyo is one of the world's largest rechargeable battery makers, Reuters reported.

Should the deal clear regulators, Panasonic said one of its intentions is restructuring both companies. It targeted three "primary synergy" areas:

  • Solar: The combined company plans to expand its silicon solar cells and batteries and accelerate development and commercialization of next-generation solar cells. Panasonic expects "a significant increase" in solar sector sales.
  • Rechargeable Batteries: In addition to fusing Sanyo's lithium-ion rechargeable batteries business with Panasonic's black box technology, the companies plan to make "active investments" in batteries for hybrid electric vehicles and electric vehicles. More practically, the deal would nearly quadruple Panasonic's share of the rechargeable-battery market.
  • Financial and Business Position: Panasonic believes the combined enterprise will produce cost cuts in procurement and logistics.

"Panasonic and Sanyo recognize that existing strategies must not only be accelerated, but also that drastic action is now required for further strengthening initiatives to achieve potential revenue and profit growth in the global economic recession stemming from the financial crisis as well as in the midst of intensified global competition," Panasonic said in a statement.

The company added: "Combining the accumulated technologies and manufacturing knowledge of both companies, Panasonic and Sanyo believe that together they will evolve into a corporate group which will be highly admired globally by enhancing the quality of life for the people worldwide and becoming a business entity coexisting in harmony with the global environment."

The deal cleared a major hurdle Thursday when Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) agreed to share its 29% in Sanyo to Panasonic for at least $6.4 billion, Reuters reported. Goldman had previously rejected two other offers from Panasonic.

"A merger would supply much-needed funds for Sanyo to maintain its position in the solar-battery market," Yuuki Sakurai, general manager of investment planning at Tokyo's Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance Co., told Bloomberg. "It's difficult to imagine Sanyo succeeding by going it alone, and in that sense the offer is progress."

Sanyo was founded by Toshio Iue, who in 1946, quit his job at Panasonic's former entity Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. to form Sanyo the following year, Bloomberg reported.

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