Panasonic sells its Tesla stake for $3.6 bn; plans to diversify battery business

Panasonic Corp has sold its stake in electric car maker Tesla Inc for about $3.61 billion (400 billion yen), as the electronics major seeks to reduce its dependence on US electric vehicle maker Tesla and also raise cash for investing in growth.

Panasonic, which makes a whole lot of household electronic products and gadgets, has become solely dependent on Tesla for its battery sales as specialisation reached high proportions. The Japanese conglomerate is trying to wriggle out of such a situation where it may end up as an appendage of Tesla.
Panasonic, however, is a big gainer as the 1.4 million Tesla shares it bought for about $39 million (at $21.15 each) in 2010, was worth $730 million at the end of March 2020. The stock has gained almost seven fold since then, closing at $679.82 on Thursday.
While Panasonic gave financial backing to Tesla when it was smaller, the automaker's expansion means there's no need for capital ties, Yasuda added. Panasonic's shares closed up 4.9% on Friday in the biggest such move since January.
The stake sale will not affect the partnership with Tesla, the Panasonic spokesperson said, and was made as part of a review of shareholdings in line with corporate governance guidelines.
The sale comes as the automaker is diversifying its own battery supply chain.
Tesla, meanwhile, has struck deals with South Korea's LG Energy Solution, a unit of LG Chem, and China's CATL, which is reported to be planning to set up a plant in Shanghai near the automaker's production base.
Panasonic said earlier this year it would buy the shares of US supply-chain software company Blue Yonder that it does not already own, in a $7.1 billion deal, its biggest such deal in a decade.
While Panasonic gave financial backing to Tesla when it was smaller, the automaker's expansion made such capital ties superfluous.
A Panasonic spokesman said the stake sale will not affect the partnership with Tesla, as it was part of a review of shareholdings in line with corporate governance guidelines.