Panasonic may slash 600 jobs

Ailing Japanese electronics firm is mulling plans to lay off 600 staff, or 20 percent of its lithium-ion battery team, to improve dwindling profitability from lower prices and stronger competition from South Korean players.


Panasonic is considering plans to terminate about 600 jobs in its lithium-ion battery manufacturing unit to stem falling profits.

According to The Japan Times on Tuesday, citing anonymous sources, the jobs are related to the company's manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries for personal computers and other consumer gadgets. This number is equivalent to about 20 percent of its headcount in the sector, the report said.

Discussions about the job cuts come amid efforts to improve dwindling profitability from lower prices and stronger competition from South Korean players such as Samsung Electronics.

Panasonic will also increase its production capacity for lithium-ion batteries for use in consumer electronics, mainly in China, while putting greater emphasis domestically on the batteries for use in automobiles, The Japan Times noted.

When approached by ZDNet Asia, a Panasonic spokesperson said, "Regarding the growth strategy for the lithium-ion battery business, we are looking into a variety of options, but nothing has been decided at the moment."

In late-March, its president Kazuhiro Tsuga revealed a three-year business plan to reshape the company, stating Panasonic will no longer tolerate unprofitable units in its sprawling pool of businesses and will push into new growth areas. It is also aiming for a net profit of at least 50 billion yen (US$503 million) in the fiscal year, ending March 2014, while generating free cash flow of more than 200 billion yen (US$2.01 billion).

The troubled Japanese electronics giant was reportedly making plans to pull out of plasma TV production and the healthcare business in October 2012 to be more cost-efficient. In the same month, Panasonic was said to be considering downsizing its mobile business in the European market to streamline operations.