A long-developing deal worth about $9 billion finally reached fruition as Panasonic Corporation signed off on the purchase of its prime electronics rival, Sanyo. The agreement will see Panasonic end up with nearly 40 percent of the rechargeable battery market worldwide. As a result of this takeover, the Japanese firm also will expand its area of expertise in the burgeoning market for automotive battery technology, adding Sanyo's wealth of knowledge about advanced Lithium-ion (Li-ion) cells to its own well-developed database in Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) power, an arena in which Sanyo also competes quite successfully.
Panasonic presently provides Ni-MH batteries to Toyota for the Prius while Sanyo supplies similar power cells to both Ford and Honda for their Hybrid vehicles. In addition to its ongoing development with Li-ion chemistry, Sanyo also is working on next-gen Ni-MH battery applications for Volkswagen. While numerous types of battery designs are currently under discussion, some form of advanced Li-ion chemistry has been deemed the most likely to succeed by the majority of industry analysts. In its press release that outlined terms of the buyout, Panasonic characterized the deal as one that would yield multiple mutual synergies when it's fully completed, by February 2009.
"Sanyo has established its status as a leading company in the rechargeable battery business focused on lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. In addition, Panasonic has utilized its original black box technology and expanded its business globally. By making this alliance, the companies will further strengthen both of their competitiveness through, among others, the introduction of Sanyo's excellent production technology to Panasonic and the provision of Panasonic's high-capacity technology to Sanyo." The firms also plan to accelerate their development of next-generation solar voltaic cells and modules, another area poised to undergo a major growth spurt in the years ahead.