Pana­sonic to shut bat­tery fac­tory in Bei­jing, cut 1,300 jobs

The Pak Banker - - COMPANIES/BOSS -

TOKYO: Ja­panese elec­tron­ics gi­ant Pana­sonic Cor­po­ra­tion on Thurs­day said it will stop mak­ing lithium-ion bat­ter­ies at its fac­tory in Bei­jing this month, cut­ting 1,300 jobs as part of a move to fo­cus on higher-mar­gin prod­ucts such as elec­tric car bat­ter­ies.

The 15-year-old plant pro­duces bat­ter­ies for sim­ple mo­bile phones and dig­i­tal cam­eras, both of which are be­ing in­creas­ingly over­taken by smart­phones in pop­u­lar­ity. "The global mar­ket for these prod­ucts has been shrink­ing," Pana­sonic spokes­woman Yayoi Watan­abe said, adding the clo­sure was more about global tech­nol­ogy trends rather than the re­cent tur­moil that has bat­tered Chi­nese mar­kets. Em­ploy­ees were in­formed of the clo­sure in late July, she said.

Fin­land's Nokia, which sold its mo­bile phone busi­ness to Mi­crosoft in 2014, was the main cus­tomer of the plant in its early days, ac­cord­ing to the Nikkei busi­ness daily. Pana­sonic took over the plant from Sanyo Elec­tric, a lead­ing maker of lithium-ion bat­ter­ies and so­lar pan­els which it ac­quired in 2010. The deal failed to bring in much growth due to the emer­gence of South Korean man­u­fac­tur­ers, an­a­lysts say, and the Ja­panese firm has since sold sev­eral Sanyo oper­a­tions. The plant clo­sure comes as Pana­sonic re­struc­tures to fo­cus on elec­tric car bat­ter­ies and energy-sav­ing home sys­tems rather than con­sumer elec­tron­ics such as plasma TVs and smart­phones, where it faces stiff com­pe­ti­tion from Asian ri­vals. In June, it said it would in­vest about 60 bil­lion yen ($499.83 mil­lion) in the fis­cal year through March in its automotive busi­ness, in­clud­ing mak­ing lithium-ion bat­ter­ies for Tesla Mo­tors Inc. Pana­sonic is due to shoul­der 30% to 40% of the cost of Tesla's $5 bil­lion Gigafactory plant in Ne­vada, a key fa­cil­ity in the au­tomaker's plans to ramp up sales.

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