Sat, Jan 26, 2013 - Page 14 News List

Japanese fund promoting rechargeable battery merger

Bloomberg

A Japanese state-backed fund approached companies including Sony Corp and Panasonic Corp about combining operations making rechargeable batteries, according to a person familiar with the matter.

TALKS

Innovation Network Corp of Japan (INCJ) has also held talks with an NEC Corp-Nissan Motor Co battery venture, said the person, who declined to be identified because the matter is private.

The discussions are at an early stage, they added.

Panasonic and Sony are Japan’s biggest makers of lithium-ion batteries.

REPORTS

Sony shares jumped to a nine-month high in Tokyo trading after the Yomiuri newspaper reported yest that INCJ invested in a consolidation of Sony’s battery unit and the NEC-Nissan venture. INCJ last year led a merger of Japanese LCD makers struggling against competitors from China and South Korea.

Spokespeople for Sony, Nissan, NEC, Panasonic and INCJ declined to comment when contacted by reporters.

The state-backed fund can offer the money needed to assist businesses to expand and work with manufacturers of electric cars, said Renzo Yamamoto, chief analyst at Techno Systems Research Co in Tokyo.

EXPANSION

“The industry has the potential for significant expansion, and that means battery makers will need money to build facilities and develop new products,” Yamamoto said.

The consolidation proposal is not related to the current investigation of batteries supplied by Kyoto-based GS Yuasa Corp which led to the grounding of Boeing Co’s 787 Dreamliner fleet, the unnamed person said.

VENTURE

The Yomiuri newspaper reported that the deal between Sony and the NEC-Nissan venture, known as Automotive Energy Supply, may take place this year from April 1.

The newspaper did not reveal its sources.

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