Panasonic Corp. said Tuesday it has agreed to sell a battery business to a Chinese company for about 500 million yen ($6.1 million) to comply with a Chinese antitrust ruling, highlighting Beijing's growing influence over major global M&A deals.
When the Japanese electronics giant took a majority stake in Sanyo Electric Co., a smaller Japanese electronics maker, in December 2009, it had to agree to address Chinese concerns that the combined entity would be too dominant in China's market for nickel-hydride car batteries.
A Panasonic spokesman said the regulator did not require that Panasonic sell to a Chinese company. Still, the deal structure gives the China-based battery maker that is buying the facilities a new foothold in Japan. Panasonic has already reduced its participation in a car-battery venture with Toyota Motor Corp., also to address Beijing's concerns.
Under an antimonopoly law that went into effect in August 2008, China's Ministry of Commerce reviews deals for their impact on the country's economy. So far, it has ordered adjustments to only a handful, but the government is expanding the scope of its scrutiny to include rules on monopoly pricing that went into effect Tuesday.