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Panasonic to exit plasma TV display business

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The move would fall in line with a broader industry shift away from plasma units, with Hitachi and Pioneer also exiting the market in recent years.

Panasonic's Viera plasma TV series is instruduced in Tokyo, on April 10, 2007  (AFP/File, Toshifumi Kitamura)

Panasonic’s Viera plasma TV series is instruduced in Tokyo, on April 10, 2007
(AFP/File, Toshifumi Kitamura)

AFP – Panasonic will stop making plasma television screens by early next year, a report said on Wednesday, as the struggling electronics giant undergoes a huge corporate overhaul.

Japan’s leading Nikkei business daily said Panasonic will shutter production at its main plasma screen plant in Amagasaki in western Japan by the end of March as it puts the factory up for sale.

The move would fall in line with a broader industry shift away from plasma units, with Hitachi and Pioneer also exiting the market in recent years.

In response to the report, a Panasonic statement said nothing had been decided but discussions about business strategy were ongoing.

A Panasonic plant in China has already stopped production of the screens, a company spokesman said.

The reported move comes as Panasonic and domestic rivals Sharp and Sony have struggled in the TV and electronics business. The trio faced falling prices and heavy competition from lower-cost overseas rivals, including South Korean and Taiwanese manufacturers.

Panasonic’s plasma screen division contributed to two straight years of massive losses with the firm losing 754.25 billion yen ($7.75 billion) in the past fiscal year to March.

That came after a whopping 772.17 billion yen loss in previous year, one of the worst-ever results for a non-financial Japanese firm.

The company returned to profitability in the three months to June on the back of an accounting change, cost cuts and a sharply weaker yen.

Last month, Panasonic said it was selling a majority stake in its profitable health unit to US buyout firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) for $1.67 billion as part of its vast restructuring.

It has also scaled back on money-losing divisions, spun off its chip business, and abandoned producing smartphones for consumers.


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