- Associated Press - Thursday, July 29, 2010

TOKYO (AP) - Panasonic is planning to take 100 percent ownership of its subsidiaries Sanyo Electric and Panasonic Electric Works in a move costing up to $9.4 billion to strengthen green businesses such as electric cars and solar panels.

Panasonic Corp., Japan’s biggest consumer electronics maker, said in a statement Thursday it will buy shares in the two companies through a public tender offer, targeting a complete purchase by April 2011. Shares in the target companies soared while Panasonic tumbled.

Panasonic already owns 51 percent of Panasonic Electric Works Co., which has electric and housing operations, and owns 50.05 percent of Sanyo Electric Co., a money-losing unit with strong battery and solar panel businesses that Panasonic took over in December.

Panasonic plans to spend up to 818.4 billion yen ($9.4 billion) on buying out the two companies. It said it has cash and can also borrow to finance the purchases but is also considering a share issue of up to 500 billion yen ($5.7 billion).

The move underlines the strategy of Panasonic President Fumio Ohtsubo who has repeatedly said that ecological businesses, including batteries for electric vehicles and solar panels for green homes, will be the backbone of the electronics maker.

Panasonic is facing touch competition not only from local rivals like Sony Corp. but also Samsung Electronics Co. of South Korea in other areas of consumer electronics such as flat TVs.

“To survive the competition and to foster growth in new markets, it is essential to foster quick strategic decision-making and the strength of the company,” the company said.

Osaka-based Panasonic, which makes Viera TVs and Lumix digital cameras, will offer 1,110 yen per share for Panasonic Electric and 138 yen per share for Sanyo in a tender starting Aug. 23 through Oct. 6.

Sanyo Electric shares shot up 27 percent in Tokyo trading to 149 yen after Japanese business daily The Nikkei reported on Panasonic’s plans ahead of its announcement. Panasonic Electric jumped 15 percent to 1,124 yen but Panasonic Corp. sank 7.7 percent to 1,077 yen.



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