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Sanyo near deal with Kyocera

12 октября 2007

Sanyo is close to an agreement to sell its lossmaking mobile phone business to Kyocera, in a move that would create the world’s seventh-biggest handset maker.

The struggling electronics group, which is in the midst of a restructuring, said that it had granted Kyocera, a maker of mobile handsets, priority negotiating rights to buy its mobile phone operations.

Media reports said the unit could fetch about Y70bn ($595m), although Sanyo said a price had not been agreed.

Sanyo, which has reported losses for three consecutive years, is rebuilding its business with a focus on solar cells and batteries under the watchful eye of its three biggest investors – Goldman Sachs, Daiwa SMBC and Sumitomo Mitsui Bank. They invested Y300bn in Sanyo last year, giving them control of about 60 per cent of voting rights.

The company is also in talks to sell its chip operations to Advantage Partners, the private equity firm, for Y100bn-Y150bn. Sanyo spun off its chip unit last year after a series of losses.

If Kyocera buys Sanyo’s mobile phone arm, it would gain a presence in the US market. Unlike most Japanese handset makers, Sanyo sold more phones in the US market, thanks to its tie-up with Sprint, than it did in Japan. Last year, it sold 3.6m phones in Japan and 8.9m overseas.

With the Japanese mobile phone market becoming saturated, domestic handset makers are being forced to expand overseas to maintain stable growth. However, in spite of having one of the most sophisticated mobile phone markets, Japanese makers such as Sharp and Matsushita have failed to challenge manufacturers such as Nokia and Motorola in the overseas markets.

Sanyo’s restructuring plan, which will be revealed next month, will involve spinning off unprofitable businesses, stepping up investment in key growth areas and streamlining its bloated structure.

Sanyo reported a 72 per cent fall in quarterly operating profit in the third quarter but the company swung into the black, mainly due to one-off gains from the sale of a stake in Sanyo Credit.

Seiichiro Sano, appointed president of the Japanese electronics group this year after a management shake-up, has said he would unveil financial "commitments" annually for the next three years. Sanyo had previously been criticised for failing to release concrete financial targets under previous management.

Источник: Financial Times

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