Panasonic pulls the plug on plasma

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Panasonic pulls the plug on plasma

Panasonic Corp. will halt production of plasma TV panels this fiscal year, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation.

Panasonic is considering selling part of its Amagasaki factory, near Osaka, Japan, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the information hasn’t been released publicly. The Amagasaki factory is the only Panasonic plant making the devices, and a sale before March could account for a 40 billion yen ($412 million) writedown, said the source.

President Kazuhiro Tsuga in March said the company would keep producing plasma even as the technology loses favor to liquid-crystal displays. In June, the Osaka-based maker of Viera sets said it was considering options for plasma after its TV and panel business accumulated 300 billion yen of operating losses in the two years ending March 2013.

Nikkei news agency earlier reported Panasonic planned to halt production of plasma TV panels. The company issued a statement to the Tokyo Stock Exchange saying it isn’t the source of the report. Megumi Kitagawa, a Tokyo-based spokeswoman for Panasonic, declined to comment.

Shares of Panasonic rose 1.6 percent to 931 yen at the close of trade in Tokyo. The shares have gained 78 percent this year.

Panasonic ranked No. 4 globally in its share of revenue from flat-panel TVs in the second quarter of this year, researcher NPD DisplaySearch said Sept. 3. Japanese competitor Sony ranks No. 3.

Last month KKR & Co. agreed to buy Panasonic’s health care unit for about 165 billion yen. Panasonic is selling control of the unit as it focuses on a 250 billion-yen plan to reverse losses at its electronics business in the next two years.

Panasonic posted first-quarter profit after changes in pension accounting and cost cuts. The company is headed for its first annual profit in three years as President Tsuga restructures to end losses in TVs, semiconductors and mobile phones.

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