TOKYO - The Japanese electronics giant Panasonic Corp plans to sell its subsidiary Sanyo Electric Co Ltd's washing machine and refrigerator operations in Asia to China's Haier Group Corp, a report said on Thursday.
Sanyo will sell all its shareholdings in around 10 subsidiaries and affiliates in Japan and Southeast Asia, the Nikkei Business Daily reported.
The sale price is estimated at about 10 billion yen ($129 million), the newspaper said, adding that it would be China's first buyout of key operations from a major Japanese manufacturer.
The companies to be sold to Haier currently develop, manufacture and sell washing machines and refrigerators - known as "white goods" - with combined annual revenue at 70 billion yen, the newspaper said.
The deal is scheduled to be completed by March next year, the Nikkei said, adding that 2,000 employees of the firms are expected to be transferred to Haier.
Panasonic declined to confirm the report, saying in a statement: "Our company is considering various options over our business reorganization" but that no decisions have been made.
In Japan, the deal will involve a trio of companies including the wholly owned Sanyo washing machine unit Sanyo Aqua and Haier Sanyo Electric Co, a 60-40 refrigerator development joint venture of Haier and Sanyo, the Nikkei said.
In Southeast Asia, units that manufacture and sell washing machines and refrigerators in Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and elsewhere will be sold, as will shares in their affiliates, it said. Haier will also be allowed to use the Sanyo brand in the region for a certain period, it added.
Haier was the world's largest maker of refrigerators in 2010, controlling 13 percent of the market, while ranking second in washing machines, with a 9 percent global share.
But the company has been struggling to boost its presence in Japan and Southeast Asia, where Japanese brands are strong. Sanyo commands 15 percent of Japan's washing machine market and 30 percent of the Vietnamese refrigerator market.
Since becoming a Panasonic subsidiary in late 2009, Sanyo has been working to jettison businesses that overlap with those of its parent.