TOKYO, June 19 (Reuters) - Japanese electronics maker Panasonic Corp (6752.T) has made major progress in talks with anti-trust regulators on its planned takeover of Sanyo Electric Co Ltd 6764.T, and is considering launching a tender offer for the smaller rival as early as next month, Kyodo news agency said.
Panasonic announced in December it would spend up to 800 billion yen ($8.3 billion) to take control of Sanyo, fortifying its presence in fast-growing green energy businesses such as solar cells and rechargeable batteries.
But the maker of Viera flat TVs and Lumix digital cameras has not set a specific timetable for the tender offer as it is still negotiating with some overseas anti-monopoly regulators to get the green light for the planned acquisition.
Although there remain a few issues with European authorities, “major hurdles have been cleared” for the deal after senior officials from Panasonic and Sanyo last week had talks with U.S. regulators, Kyodo said, citing a source close to the matter.
No officials were immediately available for comment at Panasonic or Sanyo.
Panasonic, which vies with Sony Corp (6758.T) for the title of the world’s largest consumer electronics maker, is now tentatively planning to launch the tender offer in late July or early August, and turn Sanyo into a subsidiary in September, Kyodo said.
U.S. regulators were concerned about the combined market share of up to 90 percent between the two in auto-use nickel-metal hydride batteries, but prospects that lithium-ion batteries will likely replace nickel-metal hydride batteries for car-use appear to have mitigated their concerns, Kyodo said.
A lithium-ion battery can pack more electricity than a nickel-metal hydride counterpart, enabling a hybrid or electric car to run longer on a single charge. (Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by David Jones)