Posted by: Kenji Hall on November 4, 2009
Panasonic said today that it’s finally moving ahead with its acquisition of Sanyo Electric. Sanyo is the largest global supplier of rechargeable batteries for laptops, cameras, mobile phones and other portable gizmos. Panasonic’s purchase, which will cost at least $4.5 billion, would create a powerhouse in batteries for hybrid gas-electric cars. Together, the two might expand into other sectors, such as electric vehicles and green grid technologies.
The two sides actually announced their plans in November 2008. But Panasonic waited for antitrust authorities in Japan and other countries to give their approval before proceeding.
The reason for this is, a Panasonic-Sanyo alliance could be seen as too dominant in the hybrid and electric car battery sector. To avoid possible delays to the acquisition, Panasonic is expected to pare back its stake in Panasonic EV Energy, the battery joint venture with Toyota, from 40% to 20%. That would have the effect of lowering Panasonic’s global share of the market for nickel metal-hydride batteries that power HEVs and EVs.
China’s antimonopoly body gave its conditional approval last week. So did Europe’s commission. Last Friday, at Panasonic’s earnings announcement, President Fumio Ohtsubo expressed optimism that he would receive regulatory approval from U.S. antitrust authorities soon. They are expected to announce their decision by mid-December.