Panasonic may buy ZKW to accelerate push into auto electronics: source

Mon Dec 5, 2016 11:30am EST
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By Makiko Yamazaki and Alexandra Schwarz-Goerlich

TOKYO/VIENNA (Reuters) - Japan's Panasonic Corp (6752.T: Quote) may buy European automotive light maker ZKW Group, accelerating its push into the automotive electronics market, a person familiar with the matter said.

A spokeswoman for Austria-based ZKW dismissed the idea of a sale to Panasonic as "an old rumor", adding ZKW was not negotiating with Panasonic or other potential suitors.

The Nikkei business daily reported earlier on Monday that a deal could be worth up to $1 billion and the two companies could reach a basic agreement as early as this month.

"ZKW is among various deals that Panasonic is considering," the person familiar with the matter told Reuters.

"But no details have been decided and the deal could fall through," added the source, who was not authorized to discuss the matter and asked not to be named.

Panasonic said in a statement the reported deal was not something it had announced, and declined to comment further.

An acquisition of ZKW would expand Panasonic's automotive lineup, which currently centers on batteries and navigation systems, as it shifts its focus to corporate clients to escape price competition from lower-margin consumer electronics manufacturers.

ZKW supplies light-emitting diode headlights and lighting modules to U.S. and European automakers such as General Motors Co (GM.N: Quote) and BMW (BMWG.DE: Quote). It forecasts sales of about 900 million euros ($950 million) in 2016.   Continued...

People pass a television installation at the Panasonic pavilion before the start of the IFA consumer electronics fair in Berlin, August 29, 2012.  REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz/File Photo