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Industry News Panasonic sells last remaining semiconductor business

| Editor: Jochen Schwab

At the end of the 1980s, Panasonic was one of the world's leading chip manufacturers. Now the Japanese electronics group is withdrawing from the semiconductor market and selling its last remaining chip business "Panasonic Semiconductor" to the Taiwanese company Nuvoton Technology for US$ 250 million.

Panasonic Corporation headquarters in Osaka, Japan. For US$ 250 million, the Japanese electronics group sells its power management semiconductor and sensor business to Nuvoton Technology Corp in Taiwan. Panasonic is thus finally withdrawing from the chip market.
Panasonic Corporation headquarters in Osaka, Japan. For US$ 250 million, the Japanese electronics group sells its power management semiconductor and sensor business to Nuvoton Technology Corp in Taiwan. Panasonic is thus finally withdrawing from the chip market.
(Bild: PanasonicHeadquarters / PanasonicHeadquarters / Pokarin / CC BY-SA 4.0 / CC BY-SA 4.0)

Panasonic leaves the semiconductor industry: With Panasonic Semiconductor, the Japanese company sold its last company active in chip manufacturing. This puts an end to an austerity program that has been going on for several years. Panasonic Semiconductor primarily manufactures power management chips and sensors for smartphones, security cameras, and the automotive market.

For US$ 250 million, the Japanese electronics group is now selling this business to Nuvoton Technology Corp from Taiwan. Nuvoton Technology is 61% owned by the Winbond Group, which is primarily known as a memory manufacturer. Also part of the sale is Panasonic's stake in three semiconductor fabs operated in a joint venture with the Israeli chip manufacturer TowerJazz.

"The competitive environment for the semiconductor business has become extremely tough due to the aggressive expansion of competitors, huge investments in the focus area and the reorganization of the industry," Panasonic announced in a press release on the occasion of the sale. For this reason, the decision was made to divest the recently weakening division and withdraw from the semiconductor market.

Japanese media also suspect that the ongoing trade dispute between the USA and China may have played a role.

Sale of a former market leader

Panasonic was active in the chip industry for 67 years (until 2008 under the name Matsushita). Between 1985 and 19900, the Japanese electronics group was even regarded as one of the ten semiconductor producers with the highest sales worldwide.

But in recent years, the various semiconductor divisions of the Japanese group have weakened considerably. As early as 2015, Panasonic had spun off its SoC business in a joint venture with Fujitsu into a separate company, Socionext.

In 2018, the company divested its semiconductor manufacturing facilities in Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia. This was followed in May 2019 by the sale of the Discrete Semiconductors business.

However, even the last remaining semiconductor business was unable to halt the ongoing downturn: Panasonic Semiconductor recorded a loss of US$ 215 million in the current year.

This article was first published in German by Elektronikpraxis.

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