Panasonic Corp. said Friday it logged a ¥378.96 billion group net loss for the business year that ended in March, drowning in red ink for the first time in six years due to rapidly slowing worldwide demand and the yen’s rise against other major currencies.

The Osaka-based electronics company also expects a group net loss of ¥195 billion in the year to March 2010, dragged down for the second consecutive year by restructuring costs.

The two-year setback is in sharp contrast to the ¥281.88 billion net profit generated the year before.

“The outlook for the world economy remains uncertain, but we expect the harsh conditions that hit in the last half of fiscal 2008 to continue at least through the first half of this business year,” Panasonic Chief Financial Officer Makoto Uenoyama told a news conference in Tokyo.

Uenoyama added the company expects the yen to rise against both the dollar and the euro in the latter half of fiscal 2009.

Panasonic on Friday joined a list of Japanese electronics makers — Sony Corp., Toshiba Corp. and Hitachi Ltd. — that have recently announced their forecasts for two-year net losses.

For the business year that ended in March, Panasonic managed to post a ¥72.87 billion operating profit on ¥7.77 trillion in sales. For the current year, it expects its operating profit to be ¥75 billion on ¥7 trillion in sales.

But the electronics maker said its restructuring costs, including 15,000 job cuts worldwide by the end of next March and shutting production facilities in Japan and overseas, would reach ¥455.4 billion for the two years up to March 2010, resulting in the net losses. As a result of the restructuring, however, the company cut at least ¥135 billion in costs in fiscal 2009, Uenoyama said.

Toshiba sues Imation

Kyodo News

Toshiba Corp. said Friday it has filed a lawsuit against Imation Corp. of the United States and seven other DVD manufacturers and distributors, claiming the companies have infringed on its DVD patents and hurt its business.

The Japanese electronics giant said it was seeking an unspecified amount of monetary damages and is asking the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin to prohibit the companies from producing, importing and selling the recordable DVD media products under question.

Toshiba claims these companies are infringing on its patents since they have no licensing agreements with Toshiba and are selling the products under the Imation and Memorex brand names in the United States without permission.

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