Panasonic to invest in Spanish auto parts maker Ficosa

<p> The Japanese firm is planning to take a 50 per cent stake in the Spanish auto parts maker.</p>

Panasonic Corp. is planning to take a 50 per cent stake in Spanish auto parts maker Ficosa International to boost its development of advanced vehicle safety systems.

The Nikkei newspaper said Panasonic is expected to invest between 20 billion (£112.3 million) and 30 billion yen in Ficosa. Panasonic may raise its stake in the future and turn Ficosa into a subsidiary, the Nikkei added.

It is the first major acquisition for the Japanese company in the automotive industry, which it has identified as a key area as it undertakes a strategic shift.

The Spanish supplier has developed an 'advanced automotive mirror' technology which, according to the Japan Times, isregarded as a crucial part of advanced driver assistance systems that many global carmakers have recently been focusing on.

Panasonic aims to boost its development of a vehicle safety monitoring system by incorporating vehicle-mounted censors and cameras it has developed itself.

It is looking to raise its annual auto-related sales by about 50 per cent to two trillion yen in the fiscal year 2019.

Ficosa - which posted revenue of 130 billion yen in 2013 – is headquartered in Barcelona and runs operations globally with a workforce of 8,700 people.

The two sides are finalising details including the size of the stake, with a view to reaching an agreement by the end of March 2015.

Panasonic has been restructuring its business to shift its focus away from volatile consumer markets to more reliably profitable industrial products, such as auto-related goods, according to Reuters.

In July, it confirmed it would invest in the US electric carmaker Tesla Motors's planned lithium-ion battery plant.

Panasonic shares were up 1.3 per cent today (September 25th) to 1,320.0 yen at 02:00 ET.

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