Panasonic Is Considering Various Options in Health-Care

Panasonic Corp. rose the most in six weeks in Tokyo trading after the Nikkei newspaper reported it’s considering an exit from the plasma TV business and may sell its health-care business.

Panasonic rose as much as 4.9 percent to 722 yen, its biggest advance since Feb. 4, in Tokyo trading before closing 0.6 percent higher at 692 yen, extending its gain to 33 percent this year. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell 2.7 percent.

The company is “seeking various growth strategies for the TV business,” spokeswoman Chieko Gyobu said today. It’s considering options for the growth of its health-care unit, spokeswoman Megumi Kitagawa said yesterday, declining to comment on whether it could be sold.

Japan’s No. 2 TV maker is cutting jobs and selling assets as it forecasts a net loss of 765 billion yen in the fiscal year ending March amid competition from Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. President Kazuhiro Tsuga plans to cut the number of units to 56 from 88 to focus on those offering the widest profit margins, such as beauty appliances and welding machinery.

The company is considering exiting the plasma TV business while reducing production of liquid-crystal displays and increasing outsourcing to companies including LG Electronics Inc., the Nikkei reported today, without citing anyone.

Generating Cash

It’s considering selling the unit that markets devices to check blood sugar levels and hearing aids for as much as 100 billion yen ($1.1 billion), the newspaper said yesterday, without citing anyone. That would be part of the plan to accelerate selling “non-core” businesses, the Nikkei reported.

“The direction is right for Panasonic to try to generate cash by selling and restructuring its business and I feel positive about this direction,” said Koki Shiraishi, an analyst at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. “I still worry about speed because cash generated in this way needs time to find buyers.”

LG Electronics gained 1.5 percent to 80,300 won in Seoul trading.

Private equity funds such as KKR & Co. may be interested in buying the health-care unit, the Nikkei reported. John Sunley, a spokesman for KKR in Japan, said, “We do not comment on speculation.”

The health-care unit reported an operating loss of 8.8 billion yen for the fiscal year ended March 2012, on sales of 133.6 billion yen, Nikkei said.

Panasonic earlier this month agreed to sell a building in Tokyo for about 50 billion yen to Sumitomo Mitsui Finance & Leasing Co. and Nippon Building Fund Inc.

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