Japanese electronic makers Matsushita and Toshiba are planning major consolidation of their battery businesses amid surging prices of raw materials and rare metals, news reports said on Saturday.
Matsushita Electric Industrial Co Ltd, which owns Panasonic, is expected to reduce its battery factories worldwide from the current 15 to seven or eight by 2010 to boost cost competitiveness and offset higher raw material costs, Kyodo News and Nikkei reported.
The company planned to close its Japanese manganese battery plant in Kanagawa outside Tokyo and a US alkaline battery factory in Georgia, shifting production to unspecified facilities by the end of March, the news services cited company sources as saying.
Matsushita and Toshiba officials were not immediately available for comment.
Each Matsushita factory ships approximately 600 million batteries annually. After consolidation, the new factories would each produce a billion batteries a year, the Nikkei business daily said.
Meanwhile Toshiba Corp plans to sell production equipment at its AA-size alkaline battery factory in central Japan to FDK Corp, an affiliate of electronics maker Fujitsu Ltd, for 400 million yen ($3.7 million; Dh13.5 million) by August, the reports said.
Toshiba had decided that the surge in rare metals prices -- which have more than doubled in the past three years -- made it uneconomical to produce batteries on its own, the newspaper said.
Instead, the company planned to shift focus to advanced lithium batteries, it added. (AFP)