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Fri, Feb 13, 2009 - Page 10 News List

Japan’s Pioneer to quit TV business

JOB CUTS The Japanese multinational said it would cut 10,000 jobs worldwide as it changes its focus to car electronics despite a sales slump in the automobile market

AFP , TOKYO

Japanese electronics giant Pioneer Corp said yesterday it would cut 10,000 jobs worldwide and quit the TV business as it braces for a record loss in the year to March.

The job losses are the latest in a wave of layoffs by Japanese companies as the global economic crisis batters Asia’s largest economy.

Pioneer plans to axe about nine of its 30 production companies around the world and reduce its top management’s pay by between 20 percent and 50 percent.

“It’s heartbreaking for us to withdraw from the display business, which we spearheaded, but the market is changing faster than we ever expected,” Pioneer Corp president Susumu Kotani said.

The company forecast a net loss of ¥130 billion (US$1.4 billion) for the current financial year to March, its biggest ever. The previous year it had made a loss of ¥18 billion.

Pioneer has had a hard time in recent years after being saddled with overcapacity in plasma display panels amid declining prices.

The firm decided last year to stop making its own plasma panels and fit its TVs with panels bought from Panasonic Corp instead.

But it said it had decided to stop making TVs altogether because there were no prospects of turning around the business in the current climate.

The company is closing its plasma-display production facilities in the US and the UK and will focus on car electronics instead.

“Even though the auto market is still subdued, we expect the market will pick up by March 2011, after which there will be a new business opportunity in the areas of environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient cars,” Kotani said.

“We hope to take up the new challenge using our position in the market and our technological advantages,” he said.

In addition to car electronics, Pioneer will continue to develop audio products, DJ equipment and cable TV set-top boxes.

Japan’s high-tech giants have been badly affected by the global economic slowdown, which has pushed down demand for their products and sent the yen soaring, eroding export earnings.

Pioneer posted a net loss of ¥79.13 billion for the nine months to December, compared with a profit of ¥11.62 billion in the same period a year earlier.

In the fiscal third quarter alone it lost ¥26.15 billion because of weak sales of car audio products, plasma displays and DVD drives.

Pioneer said it had already cut 5,900 regular positions and 4,000 temporary posts between March and December last year.

Other Japanese electronics makers including Sony, Toshiba, Panasonic and Hitachi have also reported losses and big job cuts because of the economic crisis.

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