Ailing Panasonic may cull plasma TV and healthcare business

Panasonic’s financial woes have been thrown back into the spotlight amid reports the firm is looking to shed its plasma TV and healthcare businesses to cut costs.

According to Reuters, the business news outlet in Panasonic’s native Japan, the Nikkei, says the company is planning to end production of plasma TV panels at its Amagaskai plant in western Japan some time next year, but it did not cite any sources in its report.

As recently as 2009/2010, Panasonic’s TV business generated sales exceeding 1 trillion yen – around £7 billion – but forecasts suggest these earnings will more than halve by 2015/2016. A dramatic decline in Japan’s flat TV market is hitting a number of manufacturers, and the Nikkei claims producing both plasma and LCD models is seen as inefficient within the Panasonic ranks.

"We are considering a number of options regarding our TV business,” a company spokesperson said. “But nothing has been decided yet."

Meanwhile, fellow Japanese news agency Kyodo claims industry sources are expecting Panasonic to sell its profitable healthcare business for around £700 million. The firm wants the healthcare arm, which sells products like electronic medical chart systems and blood-sugar monitoring devices, to be sold entirely to one buyer, although it will consider selling it off in parts, says Kyodo.

Cutbacks and restructuring have become increasingly inevitable in recent times at Panasonic, with the firm predicting losses of nearly £6 billion for the current financial year.