Panasonic considers selling healthcare business unit, report says

Panasonic president and chief executive Kazuhiro Tsuga gives Panasonic president and chief executive Kazuhiro Tsuga gives the keynote address Tuesday at the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show at the Venetian casino in Las Vegas. Later Tsuga told reporters that his company is considering closing some divisions as it retools for the new electronics market. (Jan. 8, 2013) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Panasonic Corp. is considering "various options" for the growth of its health-care unit, spokeswoman Megumi Kitagawa said Saturday, declining to comment on a report that it may sell the business.

The company is considering selling the unit, which markets devices to check blood sugar levels and for hearing aid, for between "a few tens of billion yen" to 100 billion yen ($1.04 billion), the Nikkei newspaper reported Saturday without citing anyone. Private equity funds such as KKR & Co. may be interested in buying the unit, it said.

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A telephone call to Steven Oken, a KKR spokesman in Hong Kong, outside business hours Saturday was answered by a recorded message.

Japan's No.2 TV maker is cutting jobs and reducing its number of business units as it forecasts a net loss of 765 billion yen in the fiscal year ending March 31 amid competition from Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. A sale of the health-care unit is part of the company's plan to accelerate divesting "non-core" businesses, Nikkei said.

The healthcare unit reported an operating loss of 8.8 billion yen for the fiscal year ended March 2012, on sales of 133.6 billion yen, Nikkei said.

Panasonic earlier this month agreed to sell a building in Tokyo for about 50 billion yen to Sumitomo Mitsui Finance & Leasing Co. and Nippon Building Fund Inc.

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Panasonic rose 1.9 percent to 688 yen in Tokyo trading on March 15. The stock has plunged 67 percent in the past five years, while the benchmark Topix Index dropped 12 percent.

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