Panasonic Ready for Sanyo Acquisition
Fresh from regulatory approval of its $4.6 billion plan to purchase the battery-maker Sanyo Electric Co., Panasonic Corp. is in discussions with some 10 automakers to supply lithium-ion batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles, said Naoto Noguchi, president of Panasonic's battery division.
The talks include manufacturers from the U.S., India, Europe and Japan, he said. Panasonic is seeking to position itself as a front-runner in the burgeoning battery field, which it estimates will grow fivefold by 2018. The firm plans to invest $1.4 billion to triple its lithium-ion production by October 2011.
"If demand continues to grow, we have concerns that production capacity might be insufficient," Noguchi said, adding that an increase in Japanese electric cars could make supply an issue by as early as 2012.
Last week, Panasonic received conditional approval from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for its purchase of Sanyo, completing antitrust clearance in 11 nations. The acquisition could require the firm to trim its share of a joint nickel-hydrogen battery project with Toyota, according to Chinese regulators.
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