Philips TV deal at risk, plans 4,500 job cuts

Mon Oct 17, 2011 8:15am EDT
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By Roberta Cowan

(Reuters) - Philips Electronics has all but abandoned hope of selling its TV business by the end of the year, leaving a question mark over how quickly it can divest its loss-making problem child.

"The global TV market has deteriorated, and obviously the sooner we complete this the better, but we first need to finalize the negotiations, and whether we can do that this year or into the first quarter of 2012, there are some uncertainties with that planning," Chief Executive Frans van Houten told reporters on Monday.

Philips -- the world's biggest lighting maker, a top three hospital equipment maker and Europe's biggest consumer electronics producer -- said negotiations to sell off most of its TV business to Hong-Kong based monitor-maker TPV were intense, constructive and taking longer than expected.

"For the eventuality that a final agreement cannot be reached, Philips will consider its alternative options," van Houten said in a statement on Monday.

Van Houten told reporters the companies were still talking but if negotiations were finalized, it could then take months to close a deal due to regulatory hurdles.

Both Philips and TPV said on Monday there was no agreed timeline to close the deal.

Van Houten also said it was too early to outline a backup plan for the TV business, which makes up less than 10 percent of group sales and has gone from being a global leader to a drag on the Dutch company.

The unit has notched up almost 1 billion euros in losses since the beginning of 2007, when competition with lower cost Asian rivals began to intensify.   Continued...

<p>Teamsters Mark A. Owsianiak (L) and Mark Bishop put up a sign at the Philips Electonics booth before the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) at the Las Vegas Convention Center January 3, 2008. REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus</p>