Panasonic plans to focus on solar products

Panasonic plans to focus on solar products

New Delhi. Electronics maker Panasonic India Pvt. Ltd plans to focus on selling solar devices such as rechargeable batteries that are made by Sanyo Electric Co., in which its Japanese parent Panasonic Corp. plans to acquire a controlling stake for the equivalent of $4.6 billion.

The Indian operations of Sanyo, the leading global supplier of rechargeable batteries for laptops, cameras and other gadgets, will likely be integrated with Panasonic India in April after the acquisition agreement is signed.

“We are anticipating the deal to close by March. Soon after that the domestic operations of both the companies will be integrated. That will help Panasonic strengthen the solar products portfolio," Sabiha Kidwai, general manager of marketing and corporate strategies at Panasonic India, said in an interview.

Kidwai said that the company was thinking big in terms of solar devices and its business plan for the next fiscal would be made taking Sanyo’s likely acquisition into consideration.

Panasonic Corp. is in talks with about 10 automakers to supply lithium-ion batteries as demand for energy-efficient vehicles grows, following its planned purchase of Sanyo, Bloomberg reported on 4 December, citing Naoto Noguchi, president of Panasonic’s battery unit. The discussions include companies from the US, India, Europe and Japan, Noguchi said, declining to identify the partners.

In India, Sanyo had a 50:50 joint venture with BPL Ltd called Sanyo BPL India Pvt Ltd to make electronics, digital products and appliances that fell through last year.

“Sanyo does not have a very strong brand recall or equity in the Indian market today. The integration is not likely to make a huge impact on Panasonic’s business (in India)," said Suresh Khanna, secretary general of the Consumer Electronics and Appliances Manufacturers Association, or Ceama.

Panasonic India is also working on developing a special line of products for the rural markets. Kidwai said the company’s research shows that volumes will come from non-urban and rural markets. “Panasonic has a negligible presence in the rural markets. But the specific products we are looking at for this market we can share only after a while," said Kidwai.

In India, the firm runs six separate companies that include Panasonic Home Appliances India Co. Ltd, Panasonic AVC Networks India Ltd, Panasonic Battery India Co. Ltd, Panasonic Carbon India Co. Ltd, Indo National Ltd and Panasonic Asia Pacific Pte Ltd. They manufacture and market home appliances, televisions, dry cell batteries, carbon rods, telecom products, computers, projectors and security systems.

Panasonic is consolidating its operations in India by bringing all its existing arms under one entity—Panasonic India Pvt. Ltd.

The development is part of the global consolidation that the company started in 2008 when it changed its name from Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd to Panasonic Corp. According to the company, it has grown steadily in India, with revenue expanding from Rs1,400 crore in 2007 to Rs2,200 crore in 2008. It expects to generate sales worth Rs4,300 crore in 2009.