Panasonic to sell stakes in chip plants to Israeli firm

December 20, 2013 - 1:31:20 pm

TOKYO: Japan's Panasonic on Friday announced plans to sell majority stakes in its three domestic semiconductor plants to an Israeli chipmaker in a bid to reduce its loss-making operations.

The electronics giant will jointly set up a new firm with Tower Semiconductor to run Panasonic's three plants Uozu, Tonami and Arai starting in April next year, Panasonic said in a statement after markets closed Friday.

The new firm will be owned 51 percent by the Israeli company, known for its "TowerJazz" brand, and the remaining 49 percent by Panasonic.

Separately, Panasonic said it would close another domestic chip plant in Okayama, western Japan, in March next year.

"But we have no plan to lay off our employees following the latest change in our semiconductor businesses," a company spokeswoman said. 

Panasonic is undergoing a huge restructuring aimed at repairing its balance sheet after two consecutive years of record losses.

It suffered a 20.5 billion yen operating loss in semiconductor businesses for the year to March 2013.

It has already decided to pull out of the consumer smartphone business in Japan and plasma televisions.

The firm recently doubled its net profit forecast for the current fiscal year through March to 100 billion yen or $985 million.

Panasonic shares rose 0.16 percent to 1,215 yen on Friday. (AFP)

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