January 17, 2014 / 3:21 AM / 6 years ago

Panasonic to sell SE Asia chip-assembly plants: sources

Passers-by are reflected on a product of Panasonic Corp outside an electronics store in Tokyo May 9, 2013. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

TOKYO (Reuters) - Panasonic Corp plans to sell three chip-assembly plants in Southeast Asia to Singapore’s United Test and Assembly Center Ltd, sources familiar with the matter said on Friday, as part of Panasonic’s global reorganization.

Panasonic aims to conclude a deal by early February, but final details including price have yet to be agreed. The company is also considering what to do with two other chip assembly plants in Shanghai and Suzhou, China, the sources added, saying Panasonic may sell or could close those plants.

A Panasonic spokesman said only that the company was considering various options and that nothing had been decided.

The consumer electronics maker, which posted $15 billion in net losses over the two financial years to last March, has been selling off or winding down unprofitable businesses and focusing on more promising lines targeting industrial customers, such as supplying batteries and components to automakers.

Last month Panasonic announced a joint venture to be majority owned by Israeli chipmaker TowerJazz Semiconductor Ltd that will take over Panasonic’s three chip-making plants in Japan.

The semiconductor sell-off is one of the final pieces in the Japanese company’s multi-billion dollar restructuring, which has included shutting a large plasma TV plant in western Japan.

The three plants to be sold to UTAC in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, account for most of the 6,000 employees in Panasonic’s overseas chip operations. The news was first reported in the Nikkei business daily.

Panasonic’s chip division posted a 20.5 billion yen ($196.66 million) loss in the year to March 2013.

($1 = 104.2400 Japanese yen)

Reporting by Reiji Murai; Writing by Edmund Klamann; Editing by Matt Driskill

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