Mumbai: The world’s largest consumer electronic company, Japan’s Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd (MEI), that owns the National and Panasonic brands is looking to gets its five independent consumer electronics ventures in India to work together.
“We are looking to unify the activities of our India ventures to synergize them for better focus,” said Arjun Balakrishnan director, operations, Panasonic Sales and Service India Pvt. Ltd.
Panasonic Sales is the new umbrella entity that has been created by MEI to coordinate the activities of all its consumer electronics ventures in India.
The move follows the India visit of Takemi Sano, executive vice-president, MEI, this week. Sano was part of a high-level delegation, accompanying Japan’s minister for economy, trade and industry on a visit to the country.
“Panasonic wants to create a unified holding company structure in India which will hold shares in all its India businesses. The Japanese parent often finds it difficult to get a group wide view of operations in India,” said Sushil Jiwarajka, managing director of the Salora group, one of the partners of Panasonic in India. Jiwarajka added that the five companies had been started at various periods of time by different divisions of Matsushita.
For the year ended March 2007, the five MEI-controlled listed entities had a combined turnover of Rs707.58 crore and a profit after tax of Rs19.35 crore.
A merger of the five listed companies, however, is not being contemplated because the companies have different joint venture partners. Matsushita Electric Works (MEW), which bought an 80% stake in Anchor Electricals Pvt. Ltd, will continue to operate separately from the five companies. “Anchor, which is controlled by MEW—a 51% subsidiary of MEI—will continue to operate independently,” said Toshihide Arii, chairman of Anchor Electricals.
Due to the absence of a unified structure of command, Matsushita has been unable to develop a comprehensive India strategy across different product segments—from zinc carbon batteries to rice cookers and plasma television sets.
Out of the five listed companies, two manufacture components used by the group’s other Indian ventures.
While Panasonic AVC Networks manufactures television sets and audio systems, and the main components that go into colour television sets, Panasonic Carbon makes carbon cell rods used in dry cell batteries.
Panasonic Battery sells batteries used in torches and other instruments and appliances under the Novino and Panasonic brands while Nippo Batteries too sells batteries but under the Nippo brand. And Panasonic Home Appliances manufactures rice cookers and hair dryers.
“There can be a lot of synergies in promoting the common brand, sharing best practices, reducing costs and bringing in efficiencies thus helping improve market share and shareholder value,” said Jiwarajka.