• Bloomberg


Panasonic Corp. plans to keep its liquid crystal display business even after rivals Sony Corp., Toshiba Corp. and Hitachi Ltd. agreed this week to divest their LCD units amid intensifying competition from South Korean and Taiwanese producers.

LCDs represent a “tough business but it’s a strategic business,” Panasonic’s head of European operations, Laurent Abadie, said in an interview Thursday in Berlin.

Panasonic, based in Osaka, aims to generate 60 to 70 percent of its revenue in Europe from environmentally friendly offerings such as energy-efficient home appliances by 2018, he said.

Panasonic, which last year posted its first annual profit in three years, announced fresh job cuts in April as it tries to transform itself into a leader of such products as solar panels and rechargeable batteries while competition in TVs stiffens.

The maker of Viera TV and Lumix cameras spent more than ¥460 billion purchasing stakes in Sanyo Electric Co. and Panasonic Electric Works Co. last year to boost its energy-related businesses.

The company, which in June said full-year profit would drop 59 percent, hurt by the March earthquake, is “working hard to review operating costs” and the measures will result in some “rationalizations,” Abadie said, without giving details.

Panasonic has no plans for further solar panel acquisitions, Abadie said at the IFA consumer electronics fair. “We’ll have to study on a case-by-case basis. Give us some time to digest Sanyo,” he said.

The Sanyo acquisition also resulted in some overlaps and Panasonic agreed to sell Sanyo’s washing machine and fridge unit in July. Abadie said there are no plans for further disposals.

The LCD deal involving Sony, Toshiba and Hitachi may create the world’s biggest maker of LCDs for mobile phones and cameras as Japanese firms struggle to compete against South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. and Taiwan’s Chimei Innolux Corp.

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