Sanyo will in effect cease to exist under a reorganisation proposed by Panasonic, according to the Nikkei($). Panasonic acquired (was forced to rescue some might say) Sanyo in 2008.
Panasonic claims it bought Sanyo for its global rechargeable battery and solar cell business (Sanyo was the leader in lithium ion batteries for the automotive sector) but it must surely have been aware of the huge problems at Sanyo which were going to have a less positive impact on Panasonic, and now seem to have finally finished the company off.
Sanyo was founded in 1950 by Toshio Iue, and continued to be run by the Iue family up until 2007. Their dominance was causing increasing concerns around its corporate governance, losses and mounting debts. Tomoyo Nonaka, a TV newscaster, with no executive experience, but a director on various boards and member of government committees, was appointed as Chairwoman and CEO in 2005. She tried to refocus the company around “Think Gaia” and environmental products – but predictably attracted criticism from the main banks and shareholders, as well as more traditional elements within Sanyo, particularly as the losses continued, and accounting irregularities from before her time were uncovered. She resigned in 2007. For more detail on this episode, see a sympathetic article here in Time magazine.
Sanyo had a strong presence in Europe (most visibly, a huge neon sign at Piccadilly Circus which was switched off in 2011), supplying batteries to Nokia and Volkswagen, air conditioning and a failed attempt to introduce mobile phones, but it is a shadow of its former self now, with most of its infrastructure absorbed into Panasonic.
Sanyo’s brand was said to be stronger in Europe than Panasonic, so it will be interesting to see whether Panasonic will make any moves to strengthen its visibility in Europe now Sanyo is dead and buried, or whether it is too preoccupied with its own domestic problems (see previous post – Panasonic tries to pull plug on past) At least the announcement regarding Sanyo resulted in Panasonic’s share prices hitting a year to date high.
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