• Kyodo

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Panasonic Corp. will close a lithium-ion battery factory in Beijing due to deteriorating profitability amid stiff competition with South Korean rivals, sources close to the matter said Wednesday.

The major Japanese electronics-maker will end production later this month at the earliest and lay off about 1,300 workers at the plant.

The Beijing factory produced batteries for computers and smartphones. It was launched in 2000 by Sanyo Electric Co., which became a subsidiary of Panasonic in 2009. Panasonic currently operates two other factories in China to manufacture and assemble batteries.

Panasonic plans to focus its resources on electric accumulators and batteries for use in vehicles, counting on growth in demand for the products.

The Osaka-based company is aiming to expand its sales of batteries for vehicles by 1.8-fold to ¥700 billion in fiscal 2018 compared with the fiscal 2014 level.

It has been aggressively investing in battery operations, such as a joint project with U.S. electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors Inc. to set up a large factory in the United States to make lithium-ion batteries.

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