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Panasonic to cut 560 jobs, close Asian plants

PANASONIC Corp. said today it will cut 560 jobs in Asia due to the closure of two plants in the region, while declining to confirm a report saying the Japanese electronics giant will likely suffer its first net loss in six years.

The world's largest maker of plasma television will shut down a factory in Malaysia and another plant in the Philippines to "cope with a rapid change in the global electronics market," said spokesman Akira Kadota.

The closures come as Panasonic is in the middle of a US$9 billion takeover of smaller Japanese rival Sanyo Electric Co. to become one of the world's biggest electronics companies.

Around 500 workers at the Malaysian electronics parts plant in Malacca will be out of work, while some 60 employees at the Philippines battery factory will also lose their jobs, Kadota said.

Panasonic also runs two electronics parts plants in the central Malaysia state of Selangor. The spokesman said the company will merge them into one by September. He could not give the number of workers at the Selangor plants, but added the move will not result in job losses.

Kadota declined to confirm a report that Panasonic will likely suffer its first net loss in six years due to plummeting global demand for electronics goods and a strong yen.

Citing no sources, Japan's top business daily, the Nikkei, said today Panasonic may incur a net loss of about 100 billion yen (US$1.1 billion) in the fiscal year ending March 2009. It would mark the first net loss in six years for Panasonic.

In November, Panasonic slashed its net profit forecast by 90 percent to just 30 billion yen. But the Nikkei said the company will likely plunge into the red as sales continued to deteriorate at home and abroad amid a deepening global downturn. Profits were also hit by a surging yen, which hurts Japanese exporters like Panasonic by eroding their overseas income.

The Nikkei said Panasonic's operating profit will be also worse than its forecast of 340 billion yen. The paper did not give any projection for the operating profit.

Panasonic last year changed its official name from Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., shedding the name of its charismatic founder in favor of its more internationally known brand.


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