Panasonic to sell SE Asia chip-assembly plants-sources

Reuters

TOKYO, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Panasonic Corp plans tosell three chip-assembly plants in Southeast Asia to Singapore'sUnited Test and Assembly Center Ltd, sources familiarwith the matter said on Friday, as part of Panasonic's globalreorganisation.

Panasonic aims to conclude a deal by early February, butfinal details including price have yet to be agreed. The companyis also considering what to do with two other chip assemblyplants in Shanghai and Suzhou, China, the sources added, sayingPanasonic may sell or could close those plants.

A Panasonic spokesman said only that the company wasconsidering various options and that nothing had been decided.

The consumer electronics maker, which posted $15 billion innet losses over the two financial years to last March, has beenselling off or winding down unprofitable businesses and focusingon more promising lines targeting industrial customers, such assupplying batteries and components to automakers.

Last month Panasonic announced a joint venture to bemajority owned by Israeli chipmaker TowerJazz Semiconductor Ltd that will take over Panasonic's three chip-makingplants in Japan.

The semiconductor sell-off is one of the final pieces in theJapanese company's multi-billion dollar restructuring, which hasincluded shutting a large plasma TV plant in western Japan.

The three plants to be sold to UTAC in Indonesia, Malaysiaand Singapore, account for most of the 6,000 employees inPanasonic's overseas chip operations. The news was firstreported in the Nikkei business daily.

Panasonic's chip division posted a 20.5 billion yen ($196.66million) loss in the year to March 2013.

($1 = 104.2400 Japanese yen) (Reporting by Reiji Murai; Writing by Edmund Klamann; Editingby Matt Driskill)

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