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UPDATE 1-Panasonic Q2 profit beats estimates, reassures on Tesla

* Q2 profit jumps by nearly a third; 16 pct ahead of consensus

* Says LG Chem deal with Tesla only for out-of-production model

* Sells lead acid battery unit to GS Yuasa for $250 mln (Writes through with comments on Tesla)

TOKYO, Oct 29 (Reuters) - Panasonic Corp’s quarterly operating profit beat estimates, bolstered by strong sales of high-margin TVs, and it sought to reassure that its battery partnership with Tesla Motors was not threatened by rival LG Chem.

Reports that South Korea’s LG Chem will provide batteries for Tesla have stoked speculation that the Japanese firm will face competition in supplying one of its most important customers as its seeks to make its automotive components business a key engine of growth.

But Chief Executive Kazuhiro Tsuga said the company and Tesla are on track to produce lithium-ion batteries at the U.S. automaker’s new Gigafactory battery plant from next year and that Tesla’s relationship with LG Chem was not particularly new.

“Tesla has told us that LG Chem is only providing replacement batteries for the automaker’s out-of-production Roadster models,” Tsuga told a news conference.

Lifted by strong sales of high-end TVs, security cameras and restructuring gains, July-September operating profit jumped to 123.9 billion yen ($1 billion), up 31 percent from a year earlier and 16 percent higher than a consensus estimate from analysts.

It maintained its full-year operating profit forecast of 430 billion yen, a 12.6 percent rise over the previous year. That is set to be its fourth straight year of profit growth.

As part of a drastic restructuring, Panasonic has shifted its focus towards high-tech auto parts and energy-saving home systems to escape cut-throat price competition in smartphones and lower-margin consumer products.

Panasonic has said it plans to invest around $500 million in its automotive business in the current financial year. That includes the Gigafactory, which Tesla has said will cost up to roughly $5 billion, with Panasonic to shoulder about 30 percent of the investment.

Panasonic also said on Thursday it would sell its lead acid battery business to battery maker GS Yuasa Corp for $250 million to focus on lithium-ion batteries.

$1 = 120.7300 yen Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

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