Panasonic-Sanyo Deal Stalls Amidst Layoffs

Justice Department antitrust division may delay the deal until August as it reviews the combined firms' lithium-ion business.

Published: 05-Feb-2009

Adding to recent major Japanese corporate cutbacks, appliance maker Panasonic Corp. said it would shut down plants and cut 15,000 employees, as well as reported a net loss for the last quarter and revised its annual forecast downward. All this while it's trying to acquire Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd. for $9 billion, the world's No. 1. producer of rechargeable batteries.

Panasonic, the world's No. 1 maker of plasma TVs, which has its U.S. headquarters in Secaucus, N.J., isn't getting any help from the Justice Department. Panasonic would have liked to close the Sanyo deal by the end of March, but the antitrust division may delay the deal until August as its reviews the combined firms' lithium-ion business. Panasonic, which produces lithium-ion batteries for Prius, will also produce the batteries for a new Toyota Motor Co. plug-in hybrid.

And as if that wasn't enough, Sanyo cut its annual net profit outlook to zero and said it would eliminate 1,200 jobs. As this report shows, Sanyo is under increasing pressure from Panasonic to clean up its losses prior to the acquisition, even as consumers stop buying electronics and the global economy contracts.

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