OSAKA — Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. launched Tuesday a series of structural consolidation moves for its group, initially turning five major group firms into wholly owned subsidiaries.

They include Yokohama-based communication equipment maker Matsushita Communication Industrial Co., Ehime Prefecture-based audiovisual equipment maker Matsushita-Kotobuki Electronics Industries Ltd. and Fukuoka Prefecture-based information equipment maker Kyushu Matsushita Electric Co.

The other two are appliance maker Matsushita Seiko Co., based in Aichi Prefecture, and facsimile machine and printer maker Matsushita Graphic Communication Systems Inc., headquartered in Tokyo.

The consumer electronics giant announced the consolidations earlier this year after seeing its group post an operating loss in the 2001 business year. It was the first-ever such loss for the parent firm, which was listed in 1949.

In announcing the consolidations, Matsushita President Kunio Nakamura said reorganizing the five group firms is the first step in a groupwide restructuring.

Matsushita intends to concentrate management resources on promising business areas to develop attractive products in the short term, and expand market shares to improve the group’s competitiveness.

It plans to reorganize the group’s businesses, including the five subsidiaries, into 14 fields in January.

The consolidation is aimed at increasing the efficiency of the group businesses which have overlapped in some fields at the parent and group companies.

Nakamura has cited this redundancy as a cause of the group’s reduced adaptability to changes in the business environment.

He has indicated his intention to further reduce the number of group businesses from 14 fields in the future, saying earlier this year that “from now on, we will cut down on unnecessary businesses.”