* Panasonic to buy up to 13 pct of Gorenje
* Wants to expand appliances, tap growing demand in region
* Purchasing shares at 4.31 euros
* To co-operate in R&D, sales and marketing
By Marja Novak
LJUBLJANA, July 5 Japanese consumer electronics
firm Panasonic Corp will buy up to 13 percent of
Gorenje, one of the biggest household appliance makers
in Eastern Europe, as it aims to tap growing demand in the
Panasonic is pulling away from unprofitable consumer
electronics and wants to be number one in appliances, pitting
the company against the likes of Whirlpool Corp and
Electrolux. It also wants to tap into growing demand
in emerging markets in Europe, particularly Russia.
The maker of Viera televisions will pay 10 million euros
($12.91 million) for the stake in Gorenje, which manufactures
energy efficient appliances under multiple brand names. It sells
to 90 countries and exports 95 percent of its output.
The companies will engage in joint research and development
for washing machines, refrigerators and built-in ovens and
cooperate in sales and marketing throughout Europe.
"Panasonic obliges itself to not increase its stake in
Gorenje to above 13 percent for the period of 5 years without a
preceding written approval of Gorenje's management and
supervisory board," Gorenje said in a statement.
Panasonic will buy Gorenje shares at a price of 4.31 euros
each while the exact size of the stake bought will depend upon a
rise in share capital to be carried out at the same price by
current Gorenje shareholders in the coming months.
Gorenje, the small euro zone member's second largest
exporter with a market share of about 4 percent in Europe and
market capitalisation of 66 million euros, is considering
listing its shares on the Warsaw bourse alongside its current
listing in Ljubljana.
"By combining our complementary product and manufacturing
technologies, sales channels and marketing expertise, we look
forward to bringing advanced, smart and ecologically responsible
appliances to consumers across Europe, including Russia, in the
coming years," said Laurent Abadie, head of Panasonic Europe.
Gorenje expects the alliance with Panasonic to increase its
annual sales by 80 million euros per year by 2018 from sales of
1.26 billion euros in 2012.
It had a group net loss of 4.2 million euros in the first
quarter of 2013.
Shares in the company rose by 4.55 percent to 4.34 euros by
1000 GMT on Friday, while the blue-chip SBI index
gained 0.52 percent.