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Panasonic Reportedly To Move On Sanyo Deal In January

11/05/2008 10:15:00 AM Eastern

Osaka, Japan — The Nikkei news service cited “company sources” in a report today saying Panasonic will launch a tender offer for Sanyo shares as early as January, with plans to make the acquisition a subsidiary after acquiring a majority stake at the end of March.

Panasonic is expected to begin due diligence on Sanyo's assets and hopes to reach a basic agreement with the three largest holders of Sanyo preferred stock about the purchase price and other terms of the tender offer by the end of November, Nikkei’s sources said.

The report cautioned that talks could take longer if price negotiations are lengthy.

Nikkei previously reported on Monday, Nov. 4 that Panasonic was looking to meet with three major holders of Sanyo’s preferred shares — Sumitomo Mitsui Banking, Daiwa Securities SMBC and Goldman Sachs Group — and the parties had agreed to start talks with Panasonic, possibly as early as Nov. 7.

The Nikkei report said the two firms would have board meetings as early as Nov. 7 and Panasonic president Fumio Ohtsubo and Sanyo’s president Seiichiro Sano would hold a press conference to announce the merger plans the same day.

While issuing its fiscal first half financial report, Sanyo’s Sano officially confirmed the company is negotiating “a deal with another company regarding its preferred stocks” but stopped short of saying if a widely reported deal with Panasonic was imminent.

In a statement on its web site that was said to have been delivered during the press conference on Sanyo’s financial results, Sano said, “As there are a number of reports in the media regarding our preferred stock, I would like to make one comment on the issue. As we disclosed on Nov. 1 about this preferred stock issue, we are exploring the various options available, but no official decision has been made at this time. Once a decision has been made, we will make every effort to disclose the decision at the earliest time possible.”

Sanyo said the company “will continue to explore the various possibilities and options it has regarding its preferred stock, and no official decision has been made at this time.”

There was no comment on the Panasonic site early on Nov. 5 about any pending deal. The company

issued a statement on Nov. 3

 saying it made no statements about an acquisition and that no decision on a purchase had been.