March 26, 2015 / 8:54 AM / 3 years ago

Japan's Panasonic says ready for $8.4 billion M&A spree as profit jumps

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese electronics supplier Panasonic Corp said it was ready to spend 1 trillion yen ($8.4 billion) on acquisitions over the next four years, emboldened by a stronger profit outlook for its automotive and housing technology businesses.

A visitor looks at a display showing Panasonic network loudspeakers during the IFA Electronics show in Berlin September 4, 2014. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

Chief Executive Kazuhiro Tsuga said at a briefing on Thursday that Panasonic doesn’t have specific acquisition targets in mind for now. But he said the firm will spend around 200 billion yen on M&A in the fiscal year that kicks off in April alone, and pledged to improve on Panasonic’s patchy track record on big deals.

“With strategic investments, if there’s an opportunity to accelerate growth, you need funds. That’s the idea behind the 1 trillion yen figure,” he said. Tsuga has spearheaded a radical restructuring at the Osaka-based company that has made it one of the strongest turnaround stories in Japan’s embattled technology sector.

Tsuga previously told Reuters that company was interested in M&A deals in the European white goods market, a sector where Panasonic has comparatively low brand recognition.

The firm said on Thursday it’s targeting operating profit of 430 billion yen in the next fiscal year, up nearly 25 percent from the 350 billion yen it expects for the year ending March 31.

Panasonic’s earnings have been bolstered by moving faster than peers like Sony Corp and Sharp Corp to overhaul business models squeezed by competition from cheaper Asian rivals and caught flat-footed in a smartphone race led by Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics. Out has gone reliance on mass consumer goods like TVs and smartphones, and in has come a focus on areas like automotive technology and energy-efficient home appliances.

Tsuga also sought to ease concerns that an expensive acquisition could set back its finances, which took years to recover from the deal agreed in 2008 to buy cross-town rival Sanyo for a sum equal to about $9 billion at the time.

Without referring to that deal by name, Tsuga said Panasonic had learnt from its past record and would make sure such deals would “not leave a legacy of losses”.

($1 = 118.4300 yen)

Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

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