| TOKYO, April 16
TOKYO, April 16 Japan's Panasonic Corp
has hired Bank of America Merrill Lynch to sell a part
of its healthcare unit in a deal that could raise as much as $1
billion for the sprawling electronics conglomerate, two
financial sources familiar with the deal said.
Merrill Lynch will begin providing information on the sale
to potential bidders by May, including private equity funds Bain
Capital and Carlyle Group, the sources said on condition
they were not identified.
Panasonic's president, Kazuhiro Tsuga last month said he
would seek a partner "with medical knowledge and skills and
capital for future growth" to invest in the healthcare unit as
part of a wider company revamp to bolster profitability and
shift Panasonic away from consumer electronics to supplying
components and devices to other companies.
He did not say how big of a stake in the healthcare unit he
planned to sell. Before the announcement analysts had expected
Panasonic to announce the outright sale of the business, which
makes blood-sugar monitoring devices and medical chart systems.
To maintain its cashflow, Panasonic is selling assets,
including last month a Tokyo office tower for around $500
million. Tsuga last month also announced the sale of a majority
stake in a logistics subsidiary to Nippon Express Co,
Japan's largest transportation company.