Panasonic will pull out of the plasma television panel business by the end of the financial year to March 2014, sources said, marking a key milestone in the long-term decline of Japan’s TV industry.
Panasonic had been widely expected to back out of the unprofitable business, but the exit comes sooner than predicted and underlines president Kazuhiro Tsuga’s determination to weed out weak operations as he focuses on higher-margin products to end years of losses.
Panasonic’s TV division has been a major contributor to the electronics company’s combined $15-billion net loss in its two latest financial years. Its TV business posted an operating loss of 88.5 billion yen ($913 million) in the last financial year.
With the closure of its sole plasma panel factory in western Japan, Panasonic will book an impairment loss of more than 40 billion yen on the last remaining factory building in operation, the sources added. The company set aside 120 billion yen to cover restructuring costs at the start of the current financial year.
The move also signals the demise in Japan of a technology in which TV makers once invested heavily but has now been overtaken by advances in the LCD business. Plasma display TVs accounted for less than 6% of global shipments in 2012.